Sherlockian.Net: Arthur Conan Doyle

[Portrait of Arthur Conan Doyle]

A brief life of Holmes's creator

Born 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, now hailed as "Unesco City of Literature". Medical degree from the University of Edinburgh, where he studied under the noted surgeon Joseph Bell, author of the textbook A Manual of the Operations of Surgery. The relationship between Doyle and Bell is the topic of a television drama launched in 2001, "Murder Rooms" (see review in the Guardian). ACD's thesis on the effects of syphilis is available online.

He served as doctor on an Arctic whaler; kept a journal of the voyage, first published in 2012.

ACD lived in Southsea, Birmingham and elsewhere, and practised as a doctor briefly.
[Portrait of ACD]

Oil painting of ACD. The author is also to be commemorated by a statue, currently in progress in the studio of sculptor David Cornell.

His first published short story (not about Sherlock Holmes) was "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement" in 1879 — a startling success. His first novel, A Study in Scarlet, appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887 and introduced Sherlock Holmes to the world.

ACD lived for a time in South Norwood, a suburb of London, and later near Hindhead, Surrey. A campaign is continuing to preserve Undershaw, the house at Hindhead where he lived from 1896 to 1907. His final residence was at Crowborough, Sussex.

He was the author of more than 50 books, including historical novels (most famous The White Company), science fiction (Professor Challenger), domestic comedy, seafaring adventure, the comic adventures of Brigadier Gerard, the supernatural, poetry, military history, many other subjects.

He wrote the comic play 'Jane Annie' jointly with James Barrie, creator of Peter Pan.

In 1893, ACD "killed" Sherlock Holmes by reporting his apparent death in "The Final Problem", last story of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. He wanted to devote time and attention to his "more serious" writings. Holmes was briefly brought back in The Hound of the Baskervilles, 1901, then revived in "The Empty House", 1903, and subsequent tales.

He was knighted (becoming "Sir Arthur") in 1902 to recognize his work in Boer War propaganda (particularly the pamphlet The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct) — and, some said, because of the publication of The Hound of the Baskervilles.

A constant writer of letters to the editor and crusader for social reforms, he was especially interested in criminal justice (he took a personal role in the George Edalji and Oscar Slater cases), military strategy (though he never served in the armed forces), public health, sports (cricket, boxing, the Olympics), divorce law reform, Belgian exploitation of the Congo, and the Piltdown hoax. He twice ran unsuccessfully for Parliament. ACD visited Canada in 1914, when Lady Conan Doyle kept a diary that can be viewed online through technology from the Toronto Reference Library. (ACD also made Canadian visits in 1894, 1922, and 1923.)

He died 7 July 1930.

Web links related to ACD

  • The manuscript of The Sign of the Four
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Profile
  • The Chronicles of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
  • A review of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Interviews and Recollections, edited by Harold Orel
  • Reconstruction of ACD's personal library
  • Arthur Conan Doyle the Prolific Writer
  • ACD listings in the National Register of Archives
  • Steel True, Blade Straight, a blog by Ronald Kritter
  • 'The Life and Art of Charles Doyle' (ACD's father)
  • By and about collector Fred Kittle
  • Chronological table by Leslie S. Klinger
  • Checklist of films and television programs
  • The Piltdown hoax (ACD has been offered as a suspect, with no particular evidence)
  • Ron Miller, Doyle vs. Holmes
  • Arthur and George, a novel about the Edalji case
  • ACD a murderer? The end of the manufactured scandal
  • Kids' colouring page
  • Conan Doyle vs. Literary Contemporaries (Randall Stock)
  • “A Post-Colonial Canonical and Cultural Revision”
  • Conan Doyle's Sly Subversion of English Society
  • Strand Magazine online
  • A story the youthful ACD did not write
  • ACD and Sporting Culture, panel at 221B Con 2015, tweeted by @her_nerdiness
  • Cricketing connections

    ACD and Spiritualism

    [A. Conan Doyle] A life-long interest in psychic matters led him to acknowledge Spiritualism as his faith; he spent the years from 1918 to his death preaching Spiritualism around the world and writing books and pamphlets in support of it (The New Revelation, 1918). Principal beliefs included the survival of personality after death and the possibility of communication (through mediums) between this world and the next.

    He was badly taken in by the Cottingley fairy hoax of 1920. (See also Public Domain Review and He was a friend, then a foe, of showman Harry Houdini.

    Admirers and biographies

  • The Arthur Conan Doyle Society maintains an Internet mailing list for Doylean and Sherlockian discussion.
  • The Conan Doyle Crowborough Establishment, based near ACD's retirement home, promotes knowledge of his life and works.
  • A Friends of the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection has been established at the Toronto Reference Library.
  • The massive collection of Richard Lancelyn Green is now at the City Museum of Portsmouth, where ACD lived as a young man, where a research room has been opened for visitors to use.
  • Bibliography of writings about ACD
  • Biographies and Quasi-Biographies, list by Howard Ostrom
  • Notes on biographies, by Leah Guinn


    See the Sherlockian.Net Copyright page.

    ACD's writings on the web

  • Sherlock Holmes (list from Sherlockian.Net)
  • Non-Sherlockian works (including parodies) from Sherlockian.Net
  • Biography and many texts from Literature Post
  • Listing from
  • Project Gutenberg
  • Manuscripts and facsimiles, checklist by Randall Stock
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    Copyright © Chris Redmond 2014