Today marks the 161st birthday of one of the greatest crime-fiction writers of all time…
It takes an utter genius to create the most famous mastermind of all time.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is most famous for writing the fantastic ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’, first published in 1891. This collection of stories has gone down in history to become one of the most enjoyable fictional series ever written. With adaptations on the screen occurring since the 1900s, many have taken inspiration from the intelligent creation of Conan Doyle, however, his legacy doesn’t end with Sherlock Holmes.
Just like many great authors such as Robert Burns and J.K. Rowling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in magnificent Scotland. Born on 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh, Conan Doyle had a difficult childhood, witnessing his father battle with psychiatric illness and alcoholism, living in poor conditions and being separated from his family.
At the age of nine years old, he was sent to a preparatory school in Lancashire, funded by wealthy uncles. Conan Doyle did not enjoy his time here and thought the school was run by medieval principals. Always the progressive thinker, he believed that compassion and encouragement were the best ways to share education, not punishment and humiliation. Even during his younger years, he was always looking for ways to expand his knowledge, finding solace in exercise, stating that it can ‘improve one’s mind’, a passion which he retained throughout his life.
Conan Doyle later spent years studying medicine and surgery and left the University of Edinburgh in 1881 with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Master of Surgery. He continued to learn more and more about medicine and set about starting his own medical practice, however, he struggled to find patients.
Always a passionate writer, Conan Doyle spent much of his spare time writing but struggled to find publishers for his work. Whilst awaiting patients to save the fate of his medical practice, he wrote and sent off his first-ever story involving Sherlock Holmes, ‘A Study in Scarlett’. It was accepted for publication by Ward Lock & Co on the 20th November 1886 and from this moment on, Conan Doyle’s life would change forever.
Stories featuring Sherlock Holmes were originally published as short pieces within popular magazines, receiving praise and positive reviews. After over six years of writing centred around Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle became increasingly frustrated that he wasn’t working on anything other than Sherlock stories, even considering ‘slaying Holmes’ in a letter to his mother in 1891.
In an attempt to discourage publishers from demanding more Sherlock stories, he increased price to what he thought would be more than anyone was willing to pay… however, they were more than happy to pay these tremendous prices for his tremendous work and ended up making Conan Doyle one of the highest-paid authors of his time.
Sherlock Holmes was featured in 56 short stories, written between 1886 and 1927, twelve of them being the well-loved, ‘Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a man of many talents and a master of writing. Whilst Sherlock Holmes left an everlasting mark on the crime-fiction genre, Conan Doyle also spent a lot of time writing historical, science fiction and many other genres. During his life, he penned around 22 novels, 204 stories, 4 poems and 14 plays, with many other literally works in between. He was one of the greatest literary talents of the United Kingdom and his work will continue to be read for centuries to come.
I hope that you learned a little something about this incredible author! What is your favourite book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?