HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, born 22 May 1859
“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote thoroughly researched historical novels set in the Middle Ages and it was for these books that he wished to be remembered. However, as a young doctor who was short of patients and hence short of money, he sat down and wrote a story about a man called Sherlock Holmes and it is for that famous character that Doyle is remembered today.
Sherlock Holmes is the world’s most famous detective. The novels and stories in the Sherlock Holmes Canon have been adapted for film, sequelled and prequelled, turned into comics and cartoons, and letters have been written to Holmes at his London address of 221B Baker Street. Holmes is immortal, and he made his creator famous around the world.
However, there are other works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which are well worth reading – his hilarious Brigadier Gerard stories about a vain French officer in the Napoleonic Wars, The Lost World about a group of explorers in the Amazonian jungle who encounter dinosaurs, and the historical novel The Refugees.
There are Sherlock Holmes societies around the world celebrating this amazing fictional character. He set standards for detectives in novels from that time on (including the pairing of a brilliant detective with a less brilliant side-kick, such as Dr Watson), and he stressed the importance of evidence and rational deduction in the solving of crimes. What a good thing for the world of literature that patients were in short supply and so Sherlock Holmes was born!
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died on 7 July 1930, aged 71.
Conan Doyle by Andrew Lycett and Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle by Daniel Stashower are both good biographies, or to learn about Doyle’s time in Australia you could read my book Brief Encounters: Literary Travellers in Australia.
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The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Conan Doyle, The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes by Andrew Lycett
Teller of Tales, The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle by Daniel Stashower
Brief Encounters: Literary Travellers in Australia 1836-1939 by Susannah Fullerton
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