Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1859. He went to a famous Roman Catholic boarding school* in England. The training he received from the Jesuits at school was important in his later life, although he was an atheist*. When he finished school, he returned to Edinburgh. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. While he was still a student he started writing short stories. One of his stories was published when he was only nineteen.
The Real Sherlock Holmes
One of the professors at the University of Edinburgh was Dr Joseph Bell. He was very famous. He believed that observation, logic and analysis were very important for doctors. Sometimes Bell made deductions* about his patients' lives and jobs and his students were often very surprised at his ability. Dr Bell's observational and analytical skills inspired Conan Doyle to invent the character of Sherlock Holmes - the detective with the same great skills. Another Scottish writer who studied at Edinburgh, Robert Louis Stevenson, even recognised Dr Bell when he first read the Sherlock Holmes stories.
A Medical Man
When Arthur Conan Doyle qualified as a medical man, he began working as a ship's doctor. He travelled to the Arctic and West Africa. When he returned to Britain, he worked in Portsmouth in southern England. He wasn't always successful as a doctor, so he often had enough time to write his stories and novels.
The Works of Conan Doyle
Conan Doyle wrote 56 short stories and four novels about the detective. His fi rst Sherlock Holmes story was A Study in Scarlet (1887). Many of the short stories were published in Strand Magazine, a monthly publication. When the Hound of the Baskervilles was serialized in the magazine, it was a great success. Readers queued up outside the offi ces to buy the next instalment of the story! Conan Doyle wrote many other different types of books too. One of his other famous characters is a mad scientist called Professor Challenger.
Conan Doyle was married twice. His first wife, Louisa, died in 1906. The nextyear, he married for the second time. His second wife was called Jean. He had two children with Louisa and three with Jean. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a very keen sportsman. He was a good footballer, cricketer and golfer.
Conan Doyle's later life was very sad. His son Kingsley died of pneumonia during the First World War. His brother and two brothers-in-law also died and Conan Doyle became depressed. As a result of his depression, he became very interested in spiritualism and mediums*. He wrote "The History of Spiritualism" in 1926. He travelled all around the world promoting spiritualism. Arthur Conan Doyle died on 7th July 1930.