The Creator Of Sherlock Holmes.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) is known worldwide as the creator of the detective Sherlock Holmes. In fact he was a prolific writer, creating 50 short stories and four full novels featuring Holmes, and in later life adapted some them as stage plays.
Of course, Holmes wasn’t his only creation, and he also wrote another 16 novels and hundreds of short stories.
Dr Conan Doyle
From 1876 to 1881, Doyle studied medicine in Edinburgh; during this period he spent time working in the Midlands, Yorkshire and Shropshire, before finally becoming a partner in a medical practice in Hampshire. However the practice struggled, and in 1872 he opened a solo practice in Southsea, which also struggled, which led him to return to writing to supplement his income.
He was also a qualified botanist, and had an interest in poisons, publishing a paper in the British Medical Journal in 1879. Conan Doyle also served as a ships surgeon on a number of vessels, and spent a considerable time at sea.
In 1891 he travelled to Vienna to study Ophthalmic surgery, but struggled with the language and medical terms in German, and eventually gave up, preferring to spend his time ice skating with his wife Louisa. After a brief stop off in Paris, he returned home and opened yet another unsuccessful medical practice in London.
He Took The Wicket of WG Grace
Conan Doyle was a keen sportsman, playing football for Portsmouth, under the false name of AC Smith, and was also a talented first class cricketer too.
He played 10 times for the Marylebone Cricket Club, with a highest score of 43 against London County in 1902. He was an occasional bowler, but only took one first class wicket , that of the legendary cricket WG Grace, which prompted Conan Doyle to commemorate the feat with a poem: A Reminiscence of Cricket.
Conan Doyle also played cricket in an Authors XI, which featured J.M Barrie (Peter Pan), P.G Wodehouse (Jeeves and Wooster) and A.A Milne (Winnie The Pooh).
In 1901 Conan Doyle judged the first ever bodybuilding competition held at the Royal Albert Hall, organised by the Father of Bodybuilding, Eugene Sandow.
Conan Doyle’s other sporting activities extended to the sports of golf, boxing, skiing and billiards.
In 1909, he was invited to referee the James Jeffries–Jack Johnson heavyweight championship fight in the United States.
At the time he wrote: “I was much inclined to accept … though my friends pictured me as winding up with a revolver at one ear and a razor at the other. However, the distance and my engagements presented a final bar.”
This proved to be a sensible decision, as the victory by the African-American Johnson, over the “Great White Hope” James Jeffries sparked race riots across the United States. A number of states and cities also banned the screening of the film of the fight.
A Fierce Proponent Of Spiritualism
The Most Important Thing In The World
In 1893 he joined the Society for Psychical Research, which was already thriving, and counted amongst it’s membership prominent scientists, Members of Parliament and even a future Prime Minister. Much of the society’s early work involved investigating, exposing and in some cases duplicating fake phenomena. In the late 19th century, SPR investigations into séance phenomena led to the exposure of many fraudulent mediums
Conan Doyle continued his research for over 30 years, attending hundreds of seances, and even formed an unlikely friendship with legendary stage magician and illusionist Harry Houdini.
The two men were brought together by a shared interest in Spiritualism, but it was also Spiritualism that destroyed this unlikely friendship. By 1920 Conan Doyle was convinced of the survival of the spirit after death, and their ability to communicate with the living.
Conan Doyle resigned from the Society for Physical Research in 1930, in protest to the society’s overly restrictive standards of proof.
He married twice, his second wife. Jean Leckie went on to become a Medium.
For the last fourteen years of his life (until his death in 1930), he devoted a huge part of his time, energy and fortune to promote Spiritualism, declaring that he would gladly sacrifice whatever literary reputation he had, if it would bring about a grater acceptance of Spiritualism, and to those who found comfort and meaning in his beliefs.
“We who believe in the psychic revelation, and who appreciate that a perception of these things is of the utmost importance, certainly have hurled ourselves against the obstinacy of our time.
Possibly we have allowed some of our lives to be gnawed away in what for the moment seemed a vain and thankless quest. Only the future can show whether the sacrifice was worth it.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle