Arthur Conan Doyle
The creator of Sherlock Holmes
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, DL (22 May 18597 July 1930) was a Scottish born author most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered a major innovation in the field of crime fiction, and the adventures of Professor Challenger. He was a prolific writer whose other works include science fiction stories, historical novels, plays and romances, poetry, and non-fiction.
From 1876 to 1881 he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, including a period working in the town of Aston (now a district of Birmingham). While studying, he also began writing short stories; his first published story appeared in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal before he was 20. Following his term at university he served as a ship's doctor on a voyage to the West African coast, and then in 1882 he set up a practice in Plymouth. He achieved his doctorate concerning Tabes Dorsalis in 1885.
He took up medical practice in Portsmouth in 1882. His medical practice was initially not very successful; while waiting for patients, he again began writing stories. His first significant work was A Study in Scarlet, which appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887 and featured the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes, who was partially modelled after his former university professor, Joseph Bell. Future short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes were published in the English magazine The Strand. Interestingly, Rudyard Kipling congratulated Conan Doyle on his success, asking "Could this be my old friend, Dr. Joe?" Sherlock Holmes, however, was even more closely modelled after the famous Edgar Allan Poe character, C. Auguste Dupin. While living in Southsea he played football for an amateur side (that disbanded in 1894), Portsmouth Athletic Football Club, and not Portsmouth F.C., as is the common myth.
Holmes and Moriarty apparently plunged to their deaths together down a waterfall in the story "The Final Problem". Public outcry led him to bring the character back; Conan Doyle returned to the story in "The Adventure of the Empty House", with the explanation that only Moriarty had fallen, but, since Holmes had other dangerous enemies, he had arranged to be temporarily "dead" also. Holmes eventually appears in a total of 56 short stories and four Conan Doyle novels (he has since appeared in many novels and stories by other authors). Following the Boer War in South Africa at the turn of the 20th century and the condemnation from around the world over the United Kingdom's conduct, Conan Doyle wrote a short pamphlet titled The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct which justified the UK's role in the Boer war, and was widely translated.
He wrote The Crime of the Congo in 1909, a long pamphlet in which he denounced the horrors in Congo. He became acquainted with Morel and Casement, taking inspiration from them for two of the main characters of the novel The Lost World (1912).
Conan Doyle was friends for a time with the American magician Harry Houdini, who himself became a prominent opponent of the Spiritualist movement in the 1920s following the death of his own beloved mother. Although Houdini insisted that Spiritualist mediums employed trickery (and consistently attempted to expose them as frauds), Conan Doyle became convinced that Houdini himself possessed supernatural powers, a view expressed in Conan Doyle's The Edge of the Unknown. Houdini was apparently unable to convince Conan Doyle that his feats were simply magic tricks, leading to a bitter, public, falling-out between the two. Doyle was totally stunned when Houdini pulled off his thumb and then replaced it.
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