Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is one of the most famous British writers of the 19th and 20th centuries. While Conan Doyle did write a lot of novels throughout his life, he was most famous for creating the character of Sherlock Holmes.
The cultural impact of Sherlock Holmes is undeniable and still to this day, over 100 years after he made his debut, he is still one of the most detectives in fiction.
Conan Doyle lived a fascinating life that extended beyond just his writing though, so let’s take a look at 10 interesting facts about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
10 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Facts
1. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859
Arthur Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. His parents, Charles and Mary were both Catholics and Arthur Conan Doyle was raised as such. In 1864, when Arthur Conan Doyle was just five years old, the family was separated as a result of his father’s increasing problems with alcohol. They would reunite again three years later in 1867.
2. Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887
Sherlock Holmes may have gone on to become the most iconic detective of the 20th century but the Baker Street resident had humble beginnings. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Sherlock’s first story, A Study of Scarlet’ in 1886 when he was 27 years old. An interesting fact about Conan Doyle is that this story took three weeks to write! He struggled to find a publisher but eventually sold it to Ward Lock & Co in 1887 and the story first appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1987.
3. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes and then brought him back
In 1893, Arthur Conan Doyle famously killed off Sherlock Holmes in the story ‘ The Final Problem’. Conan Doyle had grown tired of writing about Sherlock Holmes and wanted to focus on other aspects of his writing career.
In the story, Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty battle for one last time and fall off a waterfall together. What Conan Doyle didn’t anticipate was the public backlash to the decision. After mounting pressure from the public, Conan Doyle brought the character back nearly ten years later. He first brought him back in 1901 in ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, though, this was a prequel. The character was officially resurrected in 1903 in ‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes’.
4. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ran for parliament twice
Arthur Conan Doyle was politically active throughout his life and in the early 1900s, he attempted to gain a seat in parliament. He ran as a representative for the Liberal Unionist Party on two different occasions, once in 1900 and then again in 1906. He lost both elections, though, he came very close and earned a respectable amount of votes.
5. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle started an ophthalmology practice in London
Arthur Conan Doyle studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and worked in medicine in various parts of the UK and Europe. He returned to London in the early 1890s and opened an ophthalmology practice at 2 Upper Wimpole Street.
The practice was a failure and it is said that Conan Doyle never had a single visitor. An interesting fact about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is that this might be when he started writing properly as a result of boredom. There is a plaque over the building today commemorating Conan Doyle’s time there.
6. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had an interest in mystical subjects
Arthur Conon Doyle had a strong interest in mystical subjects throughout his life. He declared that he was a spiritualist at one point in his life and he would regularly attend seances and take part in other psychic investigations.
He also argued for the existence of fairies after a photograph was released of a young girl surrounded by fairies. He wrote a book about the subject titled the Coming of the Fairies.
7. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle played football in goal
Arthur Conan Doyle was one of the most successful writers of the 19/20th century but he was also incredibly athletic and talented at sport, an interesting Conan Doyle fact!
While living in Portsmouth in 1882, Arthur Conan Doyle played in goal for the amateur football club, Portsmouth Association Football Club. That club would later go on to become FA Cup Winners and former Premier League side, Portsmouth FC. Arthur Conan Doyle played in goal under the pseudonym, AC Smith.
8. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was knighted in 1902
Arthur Conan Doyle officially became Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1902. He was knighted by King Edward VII. Contrary to popular belief though, Arthur Conan Doyle was not knighted for his most famous work, his Sherlock Holmes collection, but instead for the book that justified the United Kingdom’s role in the Boer War.
9. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had five children
Arthur Conan Doyle was married twice and had five children through his two marriages. His first wife, Louisa Hawkins, died of Tuberculosis in 1906. Conan Doyle had two children with Louisa – Mary Louise, and Arthur Alleyne Kingsley.
He then married Jean Elizabeth Leckie after the death of Louisa. The couple were together until Arthur Conan Doyle died. They had three children together – Denis Percy, Adrian Malcolm and Jean Lena Annette.
10. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died in July 1930
Arthur Conan Doyle died on 7 July 1930. He was found in the hall of Windlesham Manor clutching a flower to his chest. He had suffered a heart attack and his final words were ‘You are wonderful’ and they were aimed at his wife.
There were some discussions about where he should be buried due to his life-long interesting in spiritualism. He was first buried on 11 July 1930 in Windlesham rose garden and was later reinterred with his wife in Minstead churchyard in the New Forest, Hampshire. Their grave still stands there to this day.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes is still one of the most popular characters in popular culture in the 21st century.
The influence of Conan Doyle’s work is undeniable and the constant reimaginings of his characters, namely Sherlock Holmes, means that his work will continue to be discovered for generations to come.
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