Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Photo of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a successful author best known for creating the detective Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr Watson. He was born in Edinburgh in 1859 and studied medicine at Edinburgh University. His first short story was published while he was still a student and after leaving university he served on a whaling ship as doctor.

From 1882 he set up practice and continued to work as a doctor while writing in his spare time. In 1887 the first story featuring Sherlock Holmes was published. Conan Doyle said he based the character on Dr Joseph Bell, his forensic medicine teacher at Edinburgh University. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes were published in Strand Magazine from 1891 to 1893 and it was these stories that made Conan Doyle famous. However his interest wasn't limited to fiction and he decided to kill off Holmes in 1893 in order to concentrate on his historical writing.

He wrote extensively about the Boer War where he served as a doctor and he was knighted in 1902. He also became involved in a campaign to reform Congo. He also had a keen interest in justice and turned his analytical powers to several real life cases with some success.

After his son and his brother died Conan Doyle developed a keen interest in spiritualism and he was conned by the fairy trick photography scam perpetrated by two teenage girls in Yorkshire. He wrote works such as The History of Spiritualism published in 1926. Despite his belief in spiritualism he was firm friends with Houdini who spent a great deal of time debunking these frauds but could never convince Conan Doyle that his performances were mere trickery. Sadly Conan Doyle was mocked publicly for his beliefs and writings on this subject.

He was diagnosed with heart trouble in 1929 and died in 1930 of a heart attack at the age of 71.