Arthur Conan Doyle Biography & Facts
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a British writer and physician. He created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887 for A Study in Scarlet, the first of four novels and fifty-six short stories about Holmes and Dr. Watson. The Sherlock Holmes stories are considered milestones in the field of crime fiction.
Doyle was a prolific writer; other than Holmes stories, his works include fantasy and science fiction stories about Professor Challenger and humorous stories about the Napoleonic soldier Brigadier Gerard, as well as plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction and historical novels. One of Doyle's early short stories, "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement" (1884), helped to popularise the mystery of the Mary Celeste.
Doyle is often referred to as "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle" or "Conan Doyle", implying that "Conan" is part of a compound surname rather than a middle name. His baptism entry in the register of St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, gives "Arthur Ignatius Conan" as his given names and "Doyle" as his surname. It also names Michael Conan as his godfather. The catalogues of the British Library and the Library of Congress treat "Doyle" alone as his surname.Steven Doyle, editor of The Baker Street Journal, wrote, "Conan was Arthur's middle name. Shortly after he graduated from high school he began using Conan as a sort of surname. But technically his last name is simply 'Doyle'." When knighted, he was gazetted as Doyle, not under the compound Conan Doyle.
Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 at 11 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland. His father, Charles Altamont Doyle, was born in England, of Irish Catholic descent, and his mother, Mary (née Foley), was Irish Catholic. His parents married in 1855. In 1864 the family scattered because of Charles's growing alcoholism, and the children were temporarily housed across Edinburgh. Arthur lodged with Mary Burton, the aunt of a friend, at Liberton Bank House on Gilmerton Road, while studying at Newington Academy.In 1867, the family came together again and lived in squalid tenement flats at 3 Sciennes Place. Doyle's father died in 1893, in the Crichton Royal, Dumfries, after many years of psychiatric illness. Beginning at an early age, throughout his life Doyle wrote letters to his mother, and many of them were preserved.Supported by wealthy uncles, Doyle was sent to England, to the Jesuit preparatory school Hodder Place, Stonyhurst in Lancashire at the age of nine (1868–70). He then went on to Stonyhurst College, which he attended until 1875. While Doyle was not unhappy at Stonyhurst, he said he did not have any fond memories of it because the school was run on medieval principles: the only subjects covered were rudiments, rhetoric, Euclidean geometry, algebra and the classics. Doyle commented later in his life that this academic system could only be excused "on the plea that any exercise, however stupid in itself, forms a sort of mental dumbbell by which one can improve one's mind." He also found the school harsh, noting that, instead of compassion and warmth, it favoured the threat of corporal punishment and ritual humiliation.From 1875 to 1876, he was educated at the Jesuit school Stella Matutina in Feldkirch, Austria. His family decided that he would spend a year there in order to perfect his German and broaden his academic horizons. He later rejected the Catholic faith and became an agnostic. One source attributed his drift away from religion to the time he spent in the less strict Austrian school. He also later became a spiritualist mystic.
From 1876 to 1881, Doyle studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School; during this period he spent time working in Aston (then a town in Warwickshire, now part of Birmingham), Sheffield and Ruyton-XI-Towns, Shropshire. Also during this period, he studied practical botany at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. While studying, Doyle began writing short stories. His earliest extant fiction, "The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe", was unsuccessfully submitted to Blackwood's Magazine. His first published piece, "The Mystery of Sasassa Valley", a story set in South Africa, was printed in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal on 6 September 1879. On 20 September 1879, he published his first academic article, "Gelsemium as a Poison" in the British Medical Journal, a study which The Daily Telegraph regarded as potentially useful in a 21st-century murder investigation.
Doyle was the doctor on the Greenland whaler Hope of Peterhead in 1880. On 11 July 1880 John Gray's Hope and David Gray's Eclipse met up with the Eira and Leigh Smith. The photographer W.J.A. Grant took a photograph aboard the Eira of Doyle along with Smith, the Gray brothers, and ship's surgeon William Neale, who were members of the Smith expedition. That expedition explored Franz Josef Land, and led to the naming, on 18 August, of Cape Flora, Bell Island, Nightingale Sound, Gratton ("Uncle Joe") Island, and Mabel Island.After graduating with Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery (M.B. C.M.) degrees from the University of Edinburgh in 1881, he was ship's surgeon on the SS Mayumba during a voyage to the West African coast. He completed his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree (an advanced degree beyond the basic medical qualification in the UK) with a dissertation on tabes dorsalis in 1885.In 1882, Doyle partnered with his former classmate George Turnavine Budd in a medical practice in Plymouth, but their relationship proved difficult, and Doyle soon left to set up an independent practice. Arriving in Portsmouth in June 1882, with less than £10 (£1000 today) to his name, he set up a medical practice at 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove, Southsea. The practice was not successful. While waiting for patients, Doyle returned to writing fiction.
Doyle was a staunch supporter of compulsory vaccination and wrote several articles advocating the practice and denouncing the views of anti-vaccinators.In early 1891, Doyle embarked on the study of ophthalmology in Vienna. He had previously studied at the Portsmouth Eye Hospital in order to qualify to perform eye tests and prescribe glasses. Vienna had been suggested by his friend Vernon Morris as a place to spend six months and train to be an eye surgeon. But Doyle found it too difficult to understand the German medical terms being used in his classes in Vienna, and soon quit his studies there. For the rest of his two-month stay in Vienna, he pursued other activities, such as ice skating with his wife Louisa and drinking with Brinsley Richards of the London Times. He also wrote The Doings of Raffles Haw.
After visiting Venice and Milan, he spent a few days in Paris observing Edmund Landolt, an expert on diseases of the eye. Within three months of his departure for Vienna, Doyle returned to London. He opened a small office and consulting room at 2 Upper Wimpole Street, or 2 Devonshire Place as it was then. (There is today a Westminster Cit.... Discover the Arthur Conan Doyle popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Arthur Conan Doyle books.