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28 Facts about Arthur Conan Doyle

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Arthur Conan Doyle

Below are 28 facts that you may not have known about Sherlock's creator.

1. He was born Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, on the 22 May 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

2. Both of his parents were Catholics. His mother was Irish-Catholic, and his father, although born in England, was of Irish-Catholic descent.

3. His father was an alcoholic.

4. At the age of nine, his wealthy uncles sent him to the Roman Catholic Jesuit preparatory school Hodder Place, Stonyhurst.

5. After Hodder Place, he went to the Jesuit school Stella Matutina in Feldkirch, Austria.

6. Being surrounded by Catholicism didn’t work too well on the young Doyle, and by the time he left, he had rejected organised religion and become an agnostic.

7. From 1876 to 1881 he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School.

8. While studying medicine, he began writing and his first published piece ‘The Mystery of Sasassa Valley’, was printed in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal on 6 September 1879.

9. He was a doctor on a whaling vessel, and later, after graduating, he was a ship’s surgeon on the SS Mayumba during a voyage to the West African coast.

10. In 1882, he set up a practice in Portsmouth.

11. Not being very successful at first, he started writing again.

12. A Study In Scarlet was taken up by Ward Lock and Co on 20 November 1886, and Doyle got £25 for all rights to the story.

13. He used to play football as a goalkeeper for Portsmouth Association Football Club, an amateur side, under the pseudonym A. C. Smith.

14. He also played cricket for the Marylebone Cricket Club.

15. In 1885 he married Mary Louise Hawkins, but she suffered from tuberculosis and died on 4 July 1906.

16. He then married Jean Elizabeth Leckie, whom he had first met and fallen in love with in 1897. He had maintained a platonic relationship with Jean while his first wife was still alive, out of loyalty to her.

17. He fathered five children.

18. When he told his mother that he was thinking of killing off Holmes, she replied, “You won’t! You can’t! You mustn’t!”

19. Disregarding her completely, he killed him off anyway, only to be forced to bring him back because of public outrage.

20. During the early years of the 20th century, he twice stood for Parliament as a Liberal Unionist, but although he received a respectable vote, he was not elected.

21. He once wrote a short work titled ‘The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct’, which justified the UK’s role in the Boer War.

22. He turned to spiritualism after the death of his wife, his brother, 2 brother-in-laws, and his son.

23. He was taken in by the Cottingley fairies hoax, and wrote a book about it.

24. He used to be friends with Harry Houdini, and became convinced that Houdini had supernatural powers. The two fell out over this, after Houdini told him that they were just illusions.

25. He was a member of the renowned supernatural organisation The Ghost Club.

26. He died from a heart attack on 7 July 1930, aged 71.

27. His last words were directed at his wife: “You are wonderful”.

28. The epitaph on his gravestone in the churchyard reads, in part: “Steel true/Blade straight/Arthur Conan Doyle/Knight/Patriot, Physician, and man of letters”.

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