Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a Scottish physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered a major innovation in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger. He was a prolific writer whose other works include science fiction stories, historical novels, plays and romances, poetry, and non-fiction.
Origins of Sherlock Holmes:
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, by Sidney Paget.
Doyle’s study at Groombridge Place
In 1882 he joined former classmate George Budd as his partner at a medical practice in Plymouth, but their relationship proved difficult, and Conan Doyle soon left to set up an independent practice. Arriving in Portsmouth in June of that year with less than £10 to his name, he set up a medical practice at 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove, Southsea. The practice was initially not very successful; while waiting for patients, Conan Doyle again began writing stories. His first significant work, A Study in Scarlet, appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual for 1887. It featured the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes, who was partially modelled after his former university teacher Joseph Bell. Conan Doyle wrote to him, “It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes. … Round the centre of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate I have tried to build up a man.”Future short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes were published in the English Strand Magazine. Robert Louis Stevenson was able, even in faraway Samoa, to recognise the strong similarity between Joseph Bell and Sherlock Holmes: “My compliments on your very ingenious and very interesting adventures of Sherlock Holmes. … Can this be my old friend Joe Bell?” Other authors sometimes suggest additional influences—for instance, the famous Edgar Allan Poe character C. Auguste Dupin.
Portrait of Doyle by Herbert Rose Barraud, 1893.
While living in Southsea, he played football as a goalkeeper for an amateur side, Portsmouth Association Football Club, under the pseudonym A. C. Smith. (This club, disbanded in 1894, had no connection with the present-day Portsmouth F.C., which was founded in 1898.) Conan Doyle was also a keen cricketer, and between 1899 and 1907 he played 10 first-class matches for the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). His highest score, in 1902 against London County, was 43. He was an occasional bowler who took just one first-class wicket (although one of high pedigree—it was W. G. Grace). Also a keen golfer, Conan Doyle was elected captain of the Crowborough Beacon Golf Club, East Sussex for 1910. He moved to Little Windlesham house in Crowborough with his second wife Jean Leckie and their family from 1907 until his death in July 1930.
Conan Doyle was found clutching his chest in the hall of Windlesham, his house in Crowborough, East Sussex, on 7 July 1930. He died of a heart attack at age 71.
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