Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is most famous as the inventor of Sherlock Holmes, but he
had a varied career as a writer, journalist and public figure.
Arthur Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh into a prosperous Irish family. He
trained as a doctor, gaining his degree from Edinburgh University
in 1881. He worked as a surgeon on a whaling boat and also as a medical officer
on a steamer travelling between Liverpool and West Africa.
He then settled in Portsmouth
on the English south coast and divided his time between medicine and writing.
Sherlock Holmes made his first
appearance in 'A Study of Scarlet',
published in 'Beeton's Christmas Annual' in 1887. Its success encouraged Conan
Doyle to write more stories involving Holmes but, in 1893, Conan Doyle killed
off Holmes, hoping to concentrate on more serious writing. A public outcry
later made him resurrect Holmes. In addition, Conan Doyle wrote a number of
other novels, including 'The Lost World' and various non-fictional works. These
included a pamphlet justifying Britain's involvement in the Boer War, for which
he was knighted and histories of the Boer War and World War One, in which his
son, brother and two of his nephews were killed. Conan Doyle also twice ran
unsuccessfully for parliament. In later life he became very interested in
Conan Doyle died of a heart attack on 7 July
that the character of Sherlock Holmes was inspired by Dr. Joseph Bell, for whom Doyle had worked as a clerk at the Edinburgh
Royal Infirmary. Like
was noted for drawing large conclusions from the smallest observations.
The stories about Holmes cover a period from around 1880 up to 1914.
All but four stories are narrated by Holmes's friend and biographer, Dr. John H. Watson; two are narrated by Holmes himself ("The Blanched Soldier" and "The Lion's
Mane") and two others are written in the third
person ("The Mazarin
Stone" and "His Last Bow"). In
two stories ("The
Musgrave Ritual" and
"The Gloria Scott"),
Holmes tells Watson the main story from his memories, while Watson becomes the
narrator of the frame story. The first and fourth novels, A Study in Scarlet and The Valley of Fear, each include a long interval of
recounting events unknown to either Holmes or Watson.