Arthur Conan Doyle was a British writer and physician, most noted for his fictional stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered milestones in the field of crime fiction.
Arthur Conan Doyle short biography
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 at 11 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland.
At the age of 9, Doyle bid a tearful goodbye to his parents and was shipped off to England, where he would attend Hodder Place, Stonyhurst—a Jesuit preparatory school—from 1868 to 1870. Doyle then went on to study at Stonyhurst College for the next five years. For Doyle, the boarding-school experience was brutal: many of his classmates bullied him, and the school practiced ruthless corporal punishment against its students. Over time, Doyle found solace in his flair for storytelling, and developed an eager audience of younger students.
Medical Education and Career
After attending Stonyhurst College, he entered Edinburgh University as a medical student in 1876 and received a doctor of medicine degree in 1885. In his spare time, however, he began to write stories, which were published anonymously (without a name) in various magazines from 1878 to 1880.
During Doyle’s third year of medical school, he took a ship surgeon’s post on a whaling ship sailing for the Arctic Circle. The voyage awakened Doyle’s sense of adventure, a feeling that he incorporated into a story, Captain of the Pole Star.
In 1880, Doyle returned to medical school. Back at the University of Edinburgh, Doyle became increasingly invested in Spiritualism or “Psychic religion,” a belief system that he would later attempt to spread through a series of his written works. By the time he received his Bachelor of Medicine degree in 1881, Doyle had denounced his Roman Catholic faith.
Doyle’s first paying job as a doctor took the form of a medical officer’s position aboard the steamship Mayumba, travelling from Liverpool to Africa. After his stint on the Mayumba, Doyle settled in Plymouth, England for a time. When his funds were nearly tapped out, he relocated to Portsmouth and opened his first practice. He spent the next few years struggling to balance his burgeoning medical career with his efforts to gain recognition as an author. Doyle would later give up medicine altogether, in order to devote all of his attention to his writing and his faith.
Personal Life Arthur Conan Doyle
In 1885 Doyle married Mary Louise Hawkins. She suffered from tuberculosis and died on 4 July 1906. The following year he married Jean Elizabeth Leckie, whom he had first met and fallen in love with in 1897. He had maintained a platonic relationship with Jean while his first wife was still alive, out of loyalty to her. Jean died in London on 27 June 1940.
Doyle fathered five children.
He had two with his first wife: Mary Louise and Arthur Alleyne Kingsley, known as Kingsley.
He also had three with his second wife: Denis Percy Stewart; Adrian Malcolm; and Jean Lena Annette.
Writing Career Arthur Conan Doyle
In 1886, newly married and still struggling to make it as an author, Doyle started writing the mystery novel A Tangled Skein. Two years later, the novel was renamed A Study in Scarlet and published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual. A Study in Scarlet, which first introduced the wildly popular characters Detective Sherlock Holmes and his assistant, Watson, finally earned Doyle the recognition he had so desired. It was the first of 60 stories that Doyle would pen about Sherlock Holmes over the course of his writing career. Also, in 1887, Doyle submitted two letters about his conversion to Spiritualism to a weekly periodical called Light.
Doyle continued to actively participate in the Spiritualist movement from 1887 to 1916, during which time he wrote three books that experts consider largely autobiographical. These include Beyond the City (1893), The Stark Munro Letters (1895) and A Duet with an Occasional Chorus (1899). Upon achieving success as a writer, Doyle decided to retire from medicine. Throughout this period, he additionally produced a handful of historical novels including one about the Napoleonic Era called The Great Shadow in 1892, and his most famous historical novel, Rodney Stone, in 1896.
The prolific author also composed four of his most popular Sherlock Holmes books during the 1890s and early 1900s: The Sign of Four (1890), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892), The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894) and The Hounds of Baskervilles, published in 1901. In 1893, to Doyle’s readers’ disdain, he had attempted to kill off his Sherlock Holmes character in order to focus more on writing about Spiritualism. In 1901, however, Doyle reintroduced Sherlock Holmes as a ghost in The Hounds of Baskervilles and later brought him back to life in The Adventure of the Empty House so the lucrative character could earn Doyle the money to fund his missionary work. Doyle also strove to spread his faith through a series of written works, consisting of The New Revolution (1918), The Vital Message (1919), The Wanderings of a Spiritualist (1921) and History of Spiritualism (1926).
In 1928, Doyle’s final twelve stories about Sherlock Holmes were published in a compilation entitled The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes.
Conan Doyle died of a heart attack on 7 July 1930.