Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a Scottish physician and writer. He was noted for creating the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.
When I was a child, I’ve been hearing references to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. But it was only during my professional years that I got hold of the complete volumes of his works. I was impressed by his method of deduction and logic upon reading them.
Here are little known facts that you may not be familiar about him:
- His full name was Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle. Conan was his middle name. He started using Conan as part of his last name after graduating from high school.
- He rejected the Catholic faith and became agnostic. Then, he favored Christian Spiritualism later on in his life.
- We all know that the character Sherlock Holmes was patterned after his university professor, Joseph Bell. But did you know that the name Dr. Watson came from his medical colleague named Dr. James Watson?
- After telling his plans to kill Sherlock, his mother wrote back to him, “You won’t! You can’t You mustn’t!”
- He was also an athlete having joined amateur clubs during his time. He played football, cricket, bowling, and golf.
- His work during the George Edalji mistrial helped establish a way to correct other miscarriages of justice. Thus the Court of Criminal Appeal was established in 1907.
- But aside from Holmes, Conan Doyle also wrote other works that include fantasy, science fiction, historical novels, and non-fiction.
Childhood and Education
He was born on 22 May 1959 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Both his parents were Irish Catholics. He was educated in Catholic schools and supported by wealthy uncles. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School from 1876 to 1881, While studying, he began writing short stories. He soon set up an independent practice in Portsmouth in June 1882. While waiting for patients, he wrote fiction.
A Study in Scarlet was the first story that featured Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Ward Lock & Co. had bought the rights for publication on 20 November 1886. However, in December 1893, he wrote The Final Problem where Holmes and Professor Moriarty plunged to the their deaths together. There was a public outcry that Doyle created a return.
An Advocate of Justice
During his lifetime, he personally investigated two closed cases that he believed were mistrials. One of them was the Oscar Slater case in 1908. Oscar Slater was convicted of killing an 82-year old woman in Glasgow. Doyle saw some inconsistencies in the case that he questioned the court decision. It paved way for a re-investigation and re-trial which proved Oscar Slater as innocent.
Marriage and Death
Doyle married a sister of one of his patients, Louisa Hawkins, in 1885. They had two children. However, his wife died of tuberculosis in 1906. A year after, he married Jean Elizabeth Leckie and they had three children. On 7 July 1930, Doyle was found clutching his chest in his house in Crowborough, East Sussex. He died of a heart attack at the age of 71. Ten years later, his wife died.
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