Arthur Conan Doyle
SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE (1859-1930) SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE (1859-1930) studied medicine at Edinburgh University and worked as a doctor until 1891. In 1902 he was knighted after working with a field hospital in Bloemfontein during the South African (Boer) War (1899-1902). Conan Doyle is best known for his creation of Sherlock Holmes, the amateur detective, and his friend Dr. Watson, who both appear in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1891) and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894), two collections of stories. Conan Doyle modelled Holmes partly on a teacher at Edinburgh who was known for his powers of detection in the field of medicine. Sherlock Holmes appears to us as a rather eccentric man, peculiar in his behaviour and with unusual gifts. His qualities are shown to advantage when we see him in the company of Dr Watson - the teller of the stories - whose mind is less original and not so quick. Like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, like Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or like Steinbeck's George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men, Holmes and Watson can be seen as two sides of the same person. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was a great success. Conan Doyle grew tired of his hero, however, and allowed him to fall to his death in the Swiss Alps in the story The Final Problem. This caused such disappointment among readers that the author was forced to bring Sherlock Holmes back to life for further adventures, all faithfully recorded by Dr. Watson and collected in The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1904), His Last Bow (1917) and the Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927). Most of these adventures take place in Britain. In the words of Sherlock Holmes himself: 'On general principles it is best that I should not leave the country. Scotland Yard feels lonely without me, and it causes an unhealthy excitement among the criminal classes'. The popularity of the great fictional detective, working from his London offices at 221B Baker Street, has led to the formation of many clubs, including the Baker Street Irregulars in New York (1935) and the Sherlock Holmes Society of London (1951). There is a Sherlock Holmes collection at the Marylebone Public Library in London.