Monday, October 10, 2011

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“Helped Frank Munro thrash beans this morning.  Got home about 10 O’clock and husked corn rest of the day.  Very pleasant day.”


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle was born the third of ten siblings on 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father, Charles Altamont Doyle, who was born in England of Irish descent, and his mother, born Mary Foley, who was Irish, had married in 1855. Doyle's father died in 1893, in the Crichton Royal, Dumfries, after many years of psychiatric illness.
Although he is now referred to as "Conan Doyle", the origin of this compound surname (if that is how he meant it to be understood) is uncertain. The entry in which his baptism is recorded in the register of St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh gives "Arthur Ignatius Conan" as his Christian name, and simply "Doyle" as his surname. It also names Michael Conan as his godfather.
Conan Doyle was sent to the Roman Catholic Jesuit preparatory school Hodder Place, Stonyhurst, at the age of nine. He then went on to Stonyhurst College until 1875.
From 1876 to 1881 he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, including a period working in the town of Aston (now a district of Birmingham) and in Sheffield. While studying, Conan Doyle also began writing short stories; his first published story appeared in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal before he was 20. Following his term at university, he was employed as a ship's surgeon on the SS Mayumba during a voyage to the West African coast. He completed his doctorate on the subject of tabes dorsalis in 1885.

In 1882 he joined former classmate George Budd as his partner at a medical practice in Plymouth, but their relationship proved difficult, and Conan Doyle soon left to set up an independent practice. Arriving in Portsmouth in June of that year with less than £10 to his name, he set up a medical practice at 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove, Southsea. The practice was initially not very successful; while waiting for patients, Conan Doyle again began writing stories and composed his first novel—The Narrative of John Smith—which would go unpublished until 2011. His first significant work, A Study in Scarlet, appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887. It featured the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes, who was partially modeled after his former university teacher Joseph Bell. Conan Doyle wrote to him, "It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes. ... [R]ound the centre of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate I have tried to build up a man." Future short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes were published in the English Strand Magazine. Robert Louis Stevenson was able, even in faraway Samoa, to recognize the strong similarity between Joseph Bell and Sherlock Holmes: "[M]y compliments on your very ingenious and very interesting adventures of Sherlock Holmes. ... [C]an this be my old friend Joe Bell?" Other authors sometimes suggest additional influences—for instance, the famous Edgar Allan Poe character C. Auguste Dupin.

While living in Southsea, he played football as a goalkeeper for an amateur side, Portsmouth Association Football Club, under the pseudonym A. C. Smith. (This club, disbanded in 1894, had no connection with the present-day Portsmouth F.C., which was founded in 1898.) Conan Doyle was also a keen cricketer, and between 1899 and 1907 he played 10 first-class matches for the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). His highest score, in 1902 against London County, was 43. He was an occasional bowler who took just one first-class wicket (although one of high pedigree—it was W. G. Grace). Also a keen golfer, Conan Doyle was elected captain of the Crowborough Beacon Golf Club, East Sussex for 1910. He moved to Little Windlesham house in Crowborough with his second wife Jean Leckie and their family from 1907 until his death in July 1930.

Conan Doyle's family in New York 1922
Leesah

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