About the Author

Portrait of Arthur Conan Doyle

British writer, creator Sherlock Holmes, the best-known detective in literature and the embodiment of sharp reasoning. Doyle himself was not a good example of rational personality: he believed in fairies and was interested in occultism. Sherlock Holmes stories have been translated into more than fifty languages, and made into plays, films, radio and television series, a musical comedy, a ballet, cartoons, comic books, and advertisement. By 1920 Doyle was one of the most highly paid writers in the world.

Arthus Conan Doyle was born at Picardy Place, Edinburgh, as the son of Charles Altamont Doyle, a civil servant in the Edinburgh Office of Works, and Mary (Foley) Doyle. Both of Doyle's parents were Roman Catholics. His father suffered from epilepsy and alcoholism and was eventually institutionalized. Charles Altamot died in an asylum in 1893; in the same year Doyle decided to finish permanently the adventures of his master detective. Because of financial problems, Doyle's mother kept a boarding house. Dr. Tsukasa Kobayashi has alluded in an article, that Doyle's mother had a long affair with Bryan Charles Waller, a lodger and a student of pathology, who had a deep impact to Conan Doyle.

Doyle was educated in Jesuit schools. During this period Doyle lost his belief in the Roman Catholic faith but the training of the Jesuits influenced deeply his mental development. Later he used his friends and teachers from Stonyhurst College as models for his characters in the Holmes stories, among them two boys named Moriarty. He studied at Edinburgh University and in 1884 he married Louise Hawkins. Doyle qualified as doctor in 1885. After graduation Doyle practiced medicine as an eye specialist at Southsea near Porsmouth in Hampshire until 1891 when he became a full time writer. First story about Holmes, A Study in Scarlet, was published in 1887 in 'Beeton Christmas Annual.' The novel was written in three weeks in 1886. It introduced the detective and his Sancho Panza and Boswell, Dr. Watson, the narrator of the stories. Their major opponent was the evil genius Moriarty, the classic villain and a kind of doppelgänger of Holmes. Also the intrigues of the beautiful opera singer Irene Adler caused much trouble to Holmes.

The second Sherlock Holmes story, The Sign of the Four', was written for the Lippincott's Magazine. The story collects a colorful group of people together, among them Jonathan Small who has a wooden leg and a dwarf from Tonga islands. The Strand Magazine started to publish 'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' from July 1891. Holmes's address at Mrs. Hudson's house, 221B Baker Street, London, became soon the most famous London street in literature. However, already at the end of 1891, Doyle planned to end the series and in 1893 he became so wearied of his detective that he devised his death in the 'Final Problem,' published in the Strand in the December issue. Holmes meets Moriarty at the fall of the Reichenbach in Switzerland and disappears. Watson finds a letter from Homes, stating "I have already explained to you, however, that my career had in any case reached its crisis, and that no possible conclusion to it could be more congenial to me than this."

Doyle's readers expressed their disappointment by wearing mourning bands and Strand lost 20,000 subscriptions. In The Hound of Baskervilles (1902) Doyle narrated an early case of the dead detective. The ingenious murder weapon in the story is an animal. Because of public demand Doyle resurrected his popular hero in 'The Empty House' (1903).

In these following stories Holmes stopped using cocaine, but although Doyle's later works have been criticized, several of them, including 'The Three Garridebs,' 'The Adventure of the Illustrious Client,' and 'The Veiled Lodger,' are highly enjoyable. Sherlock Holmes short stories were collected in five books. The first appeared in 1892 under the title The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The later were The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894), The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1904), His Last Bow (1917), and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927).

During the South African war (1899-1902) Doyle served for a few months as senior physician at a field hospital, and wrote The War in South Africa, in which he defended England's policy. The same uncritical attitude marked his history of World War I, The British Campaign in France and Flanders, 1928 (6 vols.). Doyle was knighted in 1902 and in 1900 and 1906 he also ran unsuccessfully for Parliament. Fourteen months after his long-invalided wife Louisa died, Conan Doyle married in 1907 his second wife, Jean Leckie. When his son Kingsley died from wounds incurred in World War I, the author dedicated himself in spiritualistic studies. An example of these preoccupations, which he already dealt in some of his earlier stories, is The Coming of Fairies. In it Doyle supported the existence of "little people" and spent more than a million dollars on their cause. He also became president of several important spiritualist organizations. - Doyle died on July 7, 1930 from heart disease at his home, Windlesham, Sussex.

Conan Doyle's other publications include plays, verse, memoirs, short stories, and several historical novels and supernatural and speculative fiction. His stories of Professor George Edward Challenger in The Lost World and other adventures blended science fact with fantastic romance, and were very popular. The model for the professor was William Rutherford, Doyle's teacher from Edinburgh. Doyle's practice, and other experiences, expeditions as ship's surgeon to the Arctic and West Coast of Africa, service in the Boer War, defenses of George Edalji and Oscar Slater, two men wrongly imprisoned, provided much material for his writings.

Sherlock Holmes's literary forefather was Edgar Allan Poe's detective C. Auguste Dupin and on the other hand a real life person, Conan Doyle's teacher in the University of Edinburgh, Joseph Bell, master of observation and deduction. Another model for the detective was Eug&eagrave;ne Francois Vidoq, a former criminal, who became the first chief of the Sûreté on the principle of 'set a thief to catch a thief.' Holmes's character have inspired many later writers to continue his adventures. Among them are O. Henry, Robert L. Fish and Nicholas Meyer with his novels The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1975) and The West End Horror (1976). Philip José Farmer's The Adventure of the Peerless Peer (1974) pastiched the Sherlock Holmes saga in the context of his World Newton Family series. In Robert Lee Hall's novel Exit Sherlock Holmes (1977) Moriarty is Holmes's alter ego. In the Dr. Fu Manchu novel Ten Years Beyond Baker Street (1984) the Evil Doctor fights Sherlock Holmes. Roger Zelazny's A Night in the Lonesome October (1993) features Holmes in a bit part. Perhaps the best actor who ever played Sherlock Holmes was not Basil Rathbone but Jeremy Brett (1935-1995). Brett devoted himself entirely to the role in a television series produced by Granada TV from 1984 to 1994. The tv scripts were very faithful to original texts

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