Books and Reading, History

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Did you know that today is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday? Well it is, so happy birthday Sir!

Most people know he is the creator of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes but there are a few lesser-known facts about him that I’d like to share with you if I may.

  • Doyle was born Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle in Edinburgh on 22nd May 1859 and became a physician as well as a writer. He studied opthamology in Vienna.
  • As well as the Sherlock Holmes stories, Doyle also wrote a whole plethora of other work including plays, romances, poetry, science fiction, historical novels and non-fiction work.
  • He was fascinated with the occult and studied spiritualism and spiritualists for much of his life. His fascination with all things supernatural was the thing that spoiled his friendship with Harry Houdini. Houdini tried to convince Doyle that his work was all illusion and misdirection, but Doyle was unconvinced and it caused friction between them until they eventually fell out.
  • His willingness to believe in the supernatural was probably the thing that caused him to fall hook, line and sinker for one of the biggest dupes of the early 20th Century. “The Cottingley Fairies” was the instance where two children cut out pictures of fairies, pasted them onto sticks and then photographed them at the bottom of their garden. The pictures were then published by their father in the press and there was a hue and cry about the pictures. There were those who proclaimed them as “evidence” that fairies existed, but there were those that denounced them as a hoax. Doyle was in the former category. It was decades later that the two sisters confessed that they did it just for a bit of fun and for something to do one afternoon in the garden.
  • Doyle was involved in two real-life mysteries where helped two people who were falsely accused of crimes. He successfully demonstrated that they could not possibly have carried out the actions they were of accused of and managed to save one from prison and would have saved the other too but at that time, there was no channels in English Law to overturn a conviction once it had been delivered. One of the cases, that of George Edalji, became the subject of a book “Arthur and George” by Julian Barnes.
  • He was awarded a knighthood due to his services to political campaigning, not for writing as most people assume.
  • There is a statue to Sherlock Holmes in Picardy Place in Edinburgh, the place where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born.

I find it fascinating that a man who was born over 150 years ago has produced such a canon of work and such a solid character in Sherlock Holmes, that not only has stood the test of time but is still going strong. They are still making Sherlock Holmes films and TV programmes now! Can they say that about other Victorian novelists and polymaths? Not really.


8 thoughts on “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle”

    1. I could never get into Holmes until recently. I’m not sure why, but I think it has something to do with a bit of “hero worship”. That and the fact that I never thought I would be able to keep up with them because they were notoriously “clever”, and the language tended to be a bit florid which also put me off.

      I’m glad to say that as I’ve aged my own language has got more florid and so it doesn’t put me off as much now. I’ve not tried Edgar Rice Burroughs yet but I think they might go on the back burner for now.


  1. This is so cool! Thank you. Just so happyens my Best Bud is married to a Doyle who has a town in Pennsyvania named with fimily name, which is Doyle, ande also happens to hail from PA.
    Doylestown’s origins date to 1745 when William Doyle obtained a license to build a tavern which is now a very strategic and main intersection. The first church was biult in 1815.
    How very, very cool. Are you able to receive on television Public Bradcastings showing of Sherlock Holmes mini series? Very good.,his is very cool~

    Thanks so much for sharing, t


    1. Thank you for leaving a comment and I must apologise for it being so long before I could reply. We have had no internet for five days and I have been struggling to access anything on my phone. The cables have been fixed now so we are back in business – hurrah!

      I love hearing the origins of towns like the one you described and it never fails to amaze me that more often than not, the pub or the tavern is established way ahead of the church. Looks like most people had their priorities right lol!!


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