22nd May: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”
– Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four

Sir Ignatius Arthur Conan Doyle was an outstanding and very successful author, physician and gentleman. Born in 1859 from wealthy family background, he studied medicine and was the assistant of the surgeon and lecturer Joseph Bell. Indeed, he is best known for the Sherlock Holmes stories. Doyle was also well acquainted with Harry Houdini. However, they went separate ways when Doyles’s belief in the supernatural grew too dominant (he saw Houdini as a magician with actual powers). As a great sportsman, Doyle got involved in playing football, cricket, and golf quite skillfully. In fact, he was the first British man to complete a day trip in Alpine skiing, an achievement that made the polar explorer name a Glacier in Antarctica after him. Arthur was married twice as his first wife Louise died in 1906, but his next wedding was barely a year after the death. I think, all in all, this can be seen as a satisfying life. Sherlock Holmes certainly is one of the best-known and most celebrated fictional characters and inspiration for numerous adaptations. As Doyle had difficulties finding a publisher for his Study in Scarlet, he published the first Sherlock Holmes story in a magazine, which sold out after just a few weeks. Holmes and his deductive methods are based on Joseph Bell, who was a pioneer in the field. Fun fact: Robert Louis Stevenson, who was a friend of Bell, even recognised the surgeon: “My compliments on your very ingenious and very interesting adventures of Sherlock Holmes. … can this be my old friend Joe Bell?” Doyle let his protagonist die at the Reichenbachfälle because he wanted to dedicate his time to other literary projects but Doyle used him for The Hound of Baskerville, which is set before Holmes’ demise. And eventually, he brought him back for good, solving cases in a collection of short stories. By the way, the character of Dr Watson is most probably based on Doyle himself.