7 Interesting Facts About Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

You probably already know that Arthur Conan Doyle (Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle) was the author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries.

That's certainly an interesting fact, but are there any more fun facts about him that you may not know?

The Scottish knight was not only the author of many other books that still influence us today, but he was also nominated for a Nobel Prize.

Let us go on a journey together and uncover more fascinating truths about this legendary author.

1. Origin, Birth and Death

To kick things off, let us take a brief look at the life of this legendary writer.

Arthur Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

He was the second born of 10 children of Charles and Mary Doyle. In 1868, he began his first seven years of schooling in Lancashire, England.

He later returned to Edinburgh, where he attended medical school at the University of Edinburgh.

He earned his Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery degrees in 1881 and 1885, respectively. 

He would later fuse his medical knowledge with his interest in literature, creating the infamous character of Sherlock Holmes and his spellbinding stories.

Seems Doyle took after both his parents. His mother Mary, who was an accomplished writer, and his father Charles Doyle, who was a surgeon.

Conan Doyle died from a heart attack at the age of 71 on July 7, 1930 in his home in Crowborough, Sussex, England.

2. The Good Doctor, or Not?


During the formative years of his life, Doyle was profoundly inspired by the perceptiveness of his professor, Dr. Joseph Bell, whose skill at observing the minutest detail in people would later serve as a fountainhead for Sherlock Holmes.

Bell was often called by the Crown as an expert medical witness. The youthful Doyle was inspired to abandon his childhood dream of becoming a sailor to pursue his true calling of becoming a doctor.

He began practicing medicine in the English city of Portsmouth, where he established a successful medical practice.

This was only the beginning of his great life story, both as a doctor and a writer. In 1895, Conan Doyle served in the Medical Corps during World War I and volunteered for service in the Boer War, where he wrote about his exploits and those of other soldiers in his unit.

One of the reasons Conan Doyle's writings are so compelling is that he based many of his stories on real-life crimes he investigated as a doctor.

For example, Conan Doyle attended the trial of the notorious killer Dr. Crippen and visited the crime scenes of Jack the Ripper's victims.

He also helped solve some crimes that had baffled the authorities. A good doctor indeed!

3. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Knight

Most people probably know by now that Conan Doyle was knighted in 1902. What's not often clear is whether he was knighted as a writer or as a volunteer doctor in the war. Which is which?.

Conan Doyle was first approached about the knighthood, in early 1902 for his vigorous defense of the British cause in the Boer War in his essay The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct.

The story was published as a pamphlet and widely circulated in several countries. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was initially inclined to decline the knighthood, but was later persuaded and knighted by King Edward VII at Buckingham Place on October 24, 1902.

The honor was for writing the pamphlet justifying British actions during the Boer War and for his volunteer work at a field hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa, during the war.

This made him the first ever historical writer to be knighted. This made him incredibly popular throughout Britain.

4. Sherlock Holmes Authorship


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle became best known for creating the character of Sherlock Holmes in 1887 in his story A Study in Scarlet, published the same year.

The detective story was an instant success, and readers demanded more detective stories of its kind.

In fact, Doyle was the first person to use the word "detective" in a novel.

He would later be recognized and honored multiple times for writing the most popular detective series in history

He went on to write a total of 4 novels and 56 short stories about Sherlock Holmes.

It is believed that the character of Sherlock Holmes was based on Doyle's teacher at medical school, Dr. Joseph Bell. Doyle said that Bell was "the critic with the most right to be severe" when it came to judging his work, and credited him with teaching him the importance of observing every detail in a situation. 

Some of his great Sherlock Holmes stories can be found in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892), The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1893), The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905), His Last Bow (1917), and The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927).

His novels about Sherlock Holmes include A Study in Scarlet (1887), his first novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), The Sign of the Four (1890), and The Valley of Fear (1915).

The stories have never gone out of print and have been adapted into films, stage plays, radio programs, comic books, television series, and other media.

They remain great works that have influenced our conception of the ideal detective in today's world of literature and film.

5. His Other Works

Apart from the Sherlock Holmes series, Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle was also an avid writer of other short stories in various genres, including historical fiction and science fiction. 

One of his most popular historical fiction books was The White Company (1891), set in the Middle Ages during the War of Two Roses.

The book is about a character named Sir Nigel Loring and the White Company itself.

Doyle wrote seven more novels that many critics considered historical and some of his best work.

These novels were written between 1888 and 1906, and from 1912 to 1929 he added another series of historical novels and short stories to his bibliography.

Among these works was the renowned scientist Professor Challenger, who became one of the most popular characters in literature.

The Professor Challenger series was his second most popular and best known work after the Sherlock Holmes series.

Doyle was also a prolific author of short stories, including two collections of the Napoleonic period featuring the infamous French character Brigadier Gerard.

Some of his other works include The Captain of the Pole-Star and J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement, both inspired by his time at sea.

6. His Belief in Fairies and His Fairy Tales

Did you know that the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was also a believer in fairies? 

The infamous Cottingley Fairies was a made up story by two young girls named Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths.

In 1917, they claimed to have taken photographs of fairies playing in the meadow behind their home.

Even after the girls admitted the fraud, Doyle refused to believe they had lied.

Doyle's willingness to believe in fairies wasn't a matter of intelligence or education - he simply wanted to believe that something magical and miraculous existed.

In 1917, convinced that the photographs showed actual fairies, and he wrote a book about the incident called The Cottingley Fairies.

However, the story was eventually revealed to be a hoax by the two girls in the photos.

In 1981, Elsie Wright confessed that she and her cousin Frances had created the fairies out of paper, thumbtacks, and cardboard wings.

The children had held the fairy wand in front of the camera and moved it around.

When they saw that the figures come into view in the camera, they shouted "Eureka!" - the Greek word for "we found it."

7. He Was a Member of the Ghost Club and a Spiritualist

Besides other more significant movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries, such as feminism and the world wars, there was also a wave of spiritualism as a movement.

The skeptics and true believers formed societies and published their own literature.

Spiritualism was so influential that it led many intellectuals to form exclusive clubs dedicated to the study of the paranormal. 

One of these clubs, of which Arthur Conan Doyle was a member, was the Ghost Club, which was formed for discussion of the paranormal and included such noted members like Charles Dickens and W.B. Yeats.

Doyle had been fascinated by the occult and other worlds since he was a boy.

He was so convinced of the existence of spiritualism-which was an occult movement that believed that human beings could connect and communicate to the dead through a spiritual trance.

While Doyle was interested in many aspects of the movement, the seances and spirit communication were the things which interested him most. 

After reading a book on Psychography-an early form of handwriting analysis- he became convinced that it was possible to communicate with deceased spirits through writing letters to them.

He wrote several letters to his son when he was dead, before he started trying out Ouija boards.

That's when he became convinced that Ouija boards were real, which led him to writing several books about the practice.

Doyle actually discontinued Sherlock Holmes in order to focus on writing about Spiritualism.

He was a strong believer in the practice and felt that it was more important than anything else he could be writing about at the time.


Well, there you have the 7 fun facts about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He was indeed a man of many hats.

His contribution to literature that proves to be impactful to date- more than a century later.

There's no doubt that  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will continue to go down in history as a great author above every thing else.

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