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Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan DoyleSir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle is best known for creating the beloved fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in his series of books. Before becoming a world famous author of exciting detective stories, he was on the path to establishing himself as a physician. Oddly enough, his mentor in medical school, Dr. Joseph Bell, would play a large role in his life though not in the area of medicine. The following looks at the life of author Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle.


Early Life

In May of 1859, Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland to parents Charles and Mary Doyle. Arthur Conan Doyle was born with a family tree full of artistic individuals. Arthur had his imagination stirred during his early childhood by his mother who told him entertaining stories. He thoroughly enjoyed the creative stories as well as the convincing way she told them. Many people believe that Arthur’s mother was the first person to prompt and influence his artistic creativity.

  • Charles Doyle was an artist himself, but his alcoholism sidetracked his artistic endeavors.
  • In 1868, Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle traveled to Stonyhurst, a boarding school in England. He would study there until graduating from college in 1876.
  • In 1876 Arthur Conan Doyle began medical school at the University of Edinburgh.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle met authors-to-be Robert Louis Stevenson and James Barrie while attending medical school. They were classmates.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle was one of ten children.


Writing Career

Arthur Conan Doyle graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1881 and started his medical practice. He worked as a physician on a steamship that traveled to the continent of Africa. Though he was a physician by training, Doyle worked to perfect his writing skills with short stories. He even published a few of these short stories along the way. After opening up a medical practice of his own with little success Doyle decided to focus his efforts on writing.

  • The Mystery of Sasassa Valley was one of Doyle’s early stories.
  • Doyle worked on a steamship that traveled to the Arctic Circle. He based one of his stories on his experiences.
  • Early in his writing career, Doyle became interested in ‘spiritualistic’ matters. He later wrote about his beliefs.
  • Sherlock Holmes first appeared in Doyle’s novel A Study in Scarlet (1887). This began a collection of 60 stories with that beloved character.
  • Dr. Joseph Bell of the University of Edinburgh was believed to be the inspiration for the character of Sherlock Holmes.


Family Life

Arthur Conan Doyle was married twice. He married his first wife Louise in 1885. He had a son and a daughter with Louise before she died of consumption in 1906. A young woman by the name of Jean became Doyle’s second wife. He had three children with her.

  • Doyle offered his medical talents to Louise’s brother, Jack who had cerebral meningitis.
  • Jean, Doyle’s second wife, was a singer and a talented equestrian.
  • Doyle met his second wife, Jean, while he was still married to Louise, but honored his marriage vows to his first wife.


Later Life and Death

Arthur Conan Doyle delved deeper into his ‘spiritualism’ in his mid and later life. He wrote books about it including The Wanderings of a Spiritualist and the History of Spiritualism. There was even a scene in Hound of the Baskervilles that reflected some of his beliefs. He wrote steadily throughout his life and settled in Crowborough, England. He died in 1930 of a heart attack at his home.

  • Doyle grew tired of the character of Sherlock Holmes and killed him off in a story called, The Final Problem. However, to the joy of fans around the world, Doyle reintroduced the character in the story, The Hound of the Baskervilles.
  • Doyle lost both a son and a brother in World War I.
  • Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was knighted in 1902.


Additional Resources

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