Today is a special day! On the 22nd of May in 1859, Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Yes, it’s the birthday of Sherlock Holmes’ dad!
In this blog post, I’ll highlight 10 things about Doyle’s life that you may not have known – until now. So if you want to know more about the man who gave us some of the world’s most famous detective stories and took us on an adventure to ‘The Lost World’, do read on!
1. His full name is Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle. Even though he is often referred to as simply Conan Doyle, Conan was a middle name and not part of his surname.
2. His father suffered from alcoholism and psychiatric illness, and when Doyle was five, the family broke apart – only to reunite again three years later.
3. Doyle had a medical degree from the University of Edinburgh Medical School and was an actual doctor before he dedicated his life to writing.
4. Doyle’s first academic article “Gelsemium as a Poison” was published in the British Medical Journal – I’m not surprised by the topic at all…
5. In 1886, Doyle received £25 (about £2500 today) for all the rights to ‘A Study in Scarlet’, his first work featuring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.
6. Doyle had an ambivalent relationship with Sherlock Homes. In 1891 he apparently wrote to his mother, “I think of slaying Holmes, … and winding him up for good and all. He takes my mind from better things.” His mother wasn’t a fan of the idea and wrote back with, “You won’t! You can’t! You mustn’t!”
7. Doyle got so tired of writing about Holmes that he demanded an incredibly high price for future Holmes stories in the hopes that his publishers’ would be discouraged from demanding more. They weren’t, and Doyle ended up becoming one of the best-paid authors of his time.
8. Doyle played amateur cricket on the Allahakbarries team which had been founded by author J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan’s dad). Other interesting members included: A. A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh’s dad), Rudyard Kipling (author of e.g., The Jungle Book), and H. G. Wells (author of e.g., War of the Worlds).
9. Arthur Conan Doyle was also friends with Harry Houdini at one point, but their different views on spiritualism ended the friendship. Doyle was a strong believer of spiritualism and took offence when Houdini began to expose mediums as frauds.
10. When Doyle died of a heart attack in 1930 at the age of 71, his last words were “You are wonderful”, which were spoken to his wife. Aww, isn’t that just romantic?!
So there you have it! 10 facts about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that you probably didn’t know. What surprised you the most? Did you know any of the facts already? And if you have any other interesting facts about this famous author, do share them in the comments below!