Arthur Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh into a prosperous Irish family. He trained as a doctor, gaining his degree from Edinburgh University in 1881. He worked as a surgeon on a whaling boat and also as a medical officer on a steamer travelling between Liverpool and West Africa. He then settled in Portsmouth on the English south coast and divided his time between medicine and writing.
Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance in A Study of Scarlet, published in 'Beeton's Christmas Annual' in 1887. Its success encouraged Conan Doyle to write more stories involving Holmes but, in 1893, Conan Doyle killed off Holmes, hoping to concentrate on more serious writing. A public outcry later made him resurrect Holmes. In addition, Conan Doyle wrote a number of other novels, including The Lost World and various non-fictional works. These included a pamphlet justifying Britain's involvement in the Boer War, for which he was knighted and histories of the Boer War and World War One, in which his son, brother and two of his nephews were killed. Conan Doyle also twice ran unsuccessfully for parliament. In later life he became very interested in spiritualism. Conan Doyle died of a heart attack on 7 July 1930.
Holmes is a mesmerising creation and Conan Doyle a master
storyteller * The Times *
The immense talent, passion and literary brilliance that Conan Doyle brought to his work gives him a unique place in English letters... Personally, I'd walk a million in tight boots just to read his letters to the milkman. -- Stephen Fry
Why do people still read Sherlock Holmes in an age of DNA testing and electron microscopes? It's elementary. Holmes has a timeless intelligence that puts him head, shoulders and deer-stalker above all other detectives -- Alexander McCall Smith
I read every Sherlock Holmes story...they have certainly found a permanent place in English literature -- Winston Churchill
The world's most famous detective -- Ruth Rendell
The brilliance of the stories lies in the relationship between Holmes and Watson, which is both funny and touching -- Jonathan Coe
Now, as in his lifetime, cab drivers, statesmen, academics, and raggedy-arsed children sit spellbound at his feet... No wonder, then, if the pairing of Holmes and Watson has triggered more imitators than any other duo in literature -- John Le Carre