The Coming of the Fairies
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Best remembered for his creation of Sherlock Holmes, the world's first consulting detective and a dedicated adherent to logic, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in later life became fascinated by the occult.
Arthur Conan Doyle, in full Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, (born May 22, 1859, Edinburgh, Scotland—died July 7, 1930, Crowborough, Sussex, England), Scottish writer best known for his creation of the detective Sherlock Holmes—one of the most vivid and enduring characters in English fiction.
The Adventure of Silver Blaze. 'Holmes gave me a sketch of the events'. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson on train to Devon to investigate murder and disappearance of a famous racehorse. Arthur Conan Doyle story published in The Strand Magazine, London, 1892
Conan Doyle, the second of Charles Altamont and Mary Foley Doyle’s 10 children, began seven years of Jesuit education in Lancashire, England, in 1868. After an additional year of schooling in Feldkirch, Austria, Conan Doyle returned to Edinburgh. Through the influence of Dr. Bryan Charles Waller, his mother’s lodger, he prepared for entry into the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School. He received Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery qualifications from Edinburgh in 1881 and an M.D. in 1885 upon completing his thesis, “An Essay upon the Vasomotor Changes in Tabes Dorsalis.”
While a medical student, Conan Doyle was deeply impressed by the skill of his professor, Dr. Joseph Bell, in observing the most minute detail regarding a patient’s condition. This master of diagnostic deduction became the model for Conan Doyle’s literary creation, Sherlock Holmes, who first appeared in A Study in Scarlet, a novel-length story published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual of 1887. Other aspects of Conan Doyle’s medical education and experiences appear in his semiautobiographical novels, The Firm of Girdlestone (1890) and The Stark Munro Letters (1895), and in the collection of medical short stories Round the Red Lamp (1894). (See also Sherlock Holmes: Pioneer in Forensic Science.) Conan Doyle’s creation of the logical, cold, calculating Holmes, the “world’s first and only consulting detective,” sharply contrasted with the paranormal beliefs Conan Doyle addressed in a short novel of this period, The Mystery of Cloomber (1889). Conan Doyle’s early interest in both scientifically supportable evidence and certain paranormal phenomena exemplified the complex diametrically opposing beliefs he struggled with throughout his life.
Driven by public clamour, Conan Doyle continued writing Sherlock Holmes adventures through 1926. His short stories were collected in several volumes, and he also wrote novels (e.g., The Hound of the Baskervilles, serialized 1901–02) that feature Holmes and his assistant, Dr. Watson. Conan Doyle, however, claimed the success of Holmes overshadowed the merit he believed his other historical fiction deserved, most notably his tale of 14th-century chivalry, The White Company (1891), its companion piece, Sir Nigel (1906), and his adventures of the Napoleonic war hero Brigadier Gerard and the 19th-century skeptical scientist Professor George Edward Challenger.
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