Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan kō´nən, kŏn´ən [key]
, 1859–1930, British author and creator of Sherlock Holmes, b. Edinburgh. Educated at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, he received a medical degree in 1881. In 1887 the first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet,
appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual.
Doyle abandoned his medical practice in 1890 and devoted his time to writing. Other works that involve the sleuthing of the great detective include The Sign of the Four
(1890), The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
(1894), The Hound of the Baskervilles
(1902), The Return of Sherlock Holmes
(1905), His Last Bow
(1917), and The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes
(1927). The brilliant and theatrical Holmes solves all his extraordinarily complex cases through ingenious deductive reasoning. His sober, credulous companion, Dr. Watson, narrates most of the Sherlock Holmes stories. The Holmes cult has given rise to several notable clubs, of which the Baker Street Irregulars is perhaps the most famous. Doyle also wrote historical romances, including Micah Clarke
(1889) and The White Company
(1891). His play A Story of Waterloo
(1894) was one of Sir Henry Irving's notable successes. Doyle also wrote two political pamphlets justifying Great Britain's actions in the South African War. In his later years he became an ardent spiritualist and wrote a History of Spiritualism
(1926). He was knighted in 1902.
See J. and V. Meyers, ed., The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Reader (2002); his autobiography (1924); biographies by O. Dudley-Edwards (1983), J. D. Carr (1949, repr. 1987), and D. Stashower (1999); studies by J. E. Holroyd (1959), V. Starrett (rev. ed. 1960), T. Hall (1979), and M. Dirda (2011); M. Sims, Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes (2017).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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