Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

1859 - 1930

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Author, spiritualist and creator of the detective Sherlock Holmes. Born in Edinburgh of Irish stock, Conan Doyle was educated in the city's Newington district followed by a Jesuit School at Stoneyhurst in Lancashire. He returned to Edinburgh where he entered the University and was taught by the surgeon Dr. Joseph Bell (1837 - 1911), who became his mentor and the figure on who Conan Doyle based his detective. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in medicine in 1881, and practised in Edinburgh, aboard ship and in the South of England while writing his doctorate, which was completed in 1885. He went on to practice in London and in South Africa during the Boer War.

His first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, was written in 1886 and published in Beeton's Christmas Annual. Many others followed, including The Sign of Four (1890), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), and His Last Bow (1917). He was also noted for historical romances, including Sir Nigel (1906), together with patriotic works of non-fiction, which examined the Boer and First World Wars. It was the second of these, The War in South Africa: Its Causes and Conduct, that prompted his knighthood in 1902. He began conducting research in spiritualism in 1887, and later joined the Society for Psychical Research. On that subject he wrote various books including The New Revelation and Wanderings of a Spiritualist.

Conan Doyle was an enthusiastic sportsman, playing cricket, golf and football. Remarkably, he is credited with introducing skiing to Switzerland, making the first of several visits in 1891. Between 1893-97 Conan Doyle took his family to live in Davos, primarily to aid his wife's failing health. Through writing about the sport, he also popularised it in Britain.

He died in Sussex (England), but is remembered by a statue in Picardy Place at the top of Leith Walk in Edinburgh. In 2009, Conan Doyle featured on a postage stamp, one of ten featuring eminent Britons, commemorating the 150th anniversary of his birth.

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