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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was more than just an author. He was a knight, a soldier, a spiritualist, a whaler, a doctor, a journalist, and most of all, he was adventurous. He was not the quiet type of person, so he enjoyed expressing himself.
Arthur Conan Doyle was born on the 22nd of May 1859 in Picardy Place, Edinburgh. The second child of Charles Altamont and Mary Foley, he was thought t have been named after the legendary medieval king, Arthur, of the Round Table. Doyle was also named after his granduncle, Michael Edward Conan. He was a descendant of the Irish, and was of the Roman Catholic religion. Doyle had a grandfather, John Doyle. He was political cartoonist, who, financially supported the family.1
Doyle had a pretty rough home life because his father was an alcoholic. As he grew up, Doyle had to take more of the responsibilities around the house into his own hands, because his father was either too sick or drunk to fulfill his daily work at home. Doyle’s mother, Mary Foley, was a homemaker who took care of her son Arthur and his brothers and sisters, and also worked and cleaned the house everyday.2
Doyle’s early education started when he was about seven years old. His mother spent lots of time reading with him and tutoring him, because this is what she thought he needed to become a cultured gentleman. When Doyle was ten years old he left home and went to the Jesuit Preparatory school named Hodder House. This was a boarding school for young boys. Arthur hated this school. Doyle once stated that Hodder House “was a little more pleasant than being confined in a prison.” While attending Hodder House, he studied chemistry, poetry, geometry, arithmetic, and grammar. After his experiences at Jesuit Preparatory school, he left and applied for Stonyhurst Academy. Doyle was accepted for enrollment into Stonyhurst and remained there for about five more years.
While at Stonyhurst, Doyle, who excelled in cricket, demonstrated some very early signs of literary talent. At the academy, he became quite good at telling stories and reading aloud.3 Doyle started reading his old favorite books from his childhood. His favorite childhood writer was Mayne Reid, who wrote The Scalp Hunters. This was his favorite book while he was progressing through life.4
During his last year before attending medical school, Doyle went to Feldkirch, a school in Austria. While attending Feldkirch, he began to question his faith in the Roman Catholic religion.5 Doyle decided finally to become a doctor and went to Edinburgh University. While attending the university Doyle met a Dr. Joseph Bell, upon whom the character Sherlock Holmes was based. Also, he met the anatomist Professor Rutherford, who was eventually made into the model for Professor Challenger in Arthur Conan Doyle’s writings.6 While at Edinburgh University, Doyle took a part-time job helping out another doctor. This was only one of the many jobs that he had while he was a learning pupil during his school time.7 For one of his assignments as a paid student at Edinburgh University, he became the doctor on a whaling ship in the Arctic Ocean during a seven-month voyage. When he returned to the University after his long trip, Doyle received his Bachelor of Medicine degree in 1881. After his graduation, Doyle decided to go back and make a second voyage as a whaling ship’s doctor in the Arctic Ocean. While on the second voyage, he nearly died of a high fever.8
When Doyle left Edinburgh University, he told his family that he had changed his religion, and was no longer of the Catholic faith.9 Doyle began his writing career and the public loved his first professional work. The editor of the Cornhill Magazine approved of the story and the author, accepting the story Habakuk Jephson’s Statement for publication. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels were huge successes in North America.10 The people enjoyed them so much that Doyle wrote even more novels for the United States to publish, such as The Sign of Four. Doyle’s first short story to be published was The Mystery of Sasassa Valley in 1879.11
While he paid more attention to his writing than his medical career, Doyle continued to practice medicine for about two years. It was during this time that he met his soon-to-be wife, Louise Hawkins,12 when her brother was diagnosed with an incurable disease, cerebral meningitis. Jack, Louise’s brother, died a couple of days later. Louise and Doyle were married several months later. Louise’s nickname was “Touie,” one of the names Doyle later used in his famous novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. The marriage lasted from 1885 until Louise’s death from tuberculosis in August of 1906. While Doyle was married to Louise, they had one daughter, Mary Louise, born in 1889, and one son Alleyne Kingsley, born in 1902.13 After Louise’s death, Doyle never talked about his wife or their long lasting marriage.
A year or so after her death, Doyle met a woman by the name of Jean Leckie, who would soon be his second wife. Jean and Doyle met when they ran into each other on the street. In 1907, they were married.14 His inspiration to write even more in his spare time was brought on by his marriage. Shortly after their marriage, Doyle’s fa
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