Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Biography

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To the delight of thousands of frustrated fans, The Strand magazine published the first episode of The Hound of the Baskervilles in August of 1901. The novel became, and is to this day, a worldwide sensation.

A year later, King Edward VII knighted Conan Doyle for services rendered to the Crown during the Boer War. Gossip has it, that the King was such an avid Sherlock Holmes fan, that he had put the author's name on his Honours List to encourage him to write new stories. Be that as it may, His Majesty and several hundred thousand of his subjects must have been very pleased when in 1903 The Strand Magazine started serializing The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Writing, looking after Louisa, seeing Jean Leckie as discreetly as possible, playing golf, driving fast cars, floating in the sky in hot air balloons, flying in early archaic and rather frightening airplanes, spending time on "muscle development," as body-building used to be called, kept Conan Doyle active but not really contented. His lingering deep desire for public service made him go for a second attempt at politics in the spring of 1906. He lost the election once more.

After Louisa died in his arms on the 4th of July 1906, Conan Doyle slipped into a debilitating state of depression which lasted many months. He extricated himself of his misery by trying to help someone in a worse condition than he was. Playing Sherlock Holmes, he got in touch with Scotland Yard to point out a case of miscarriage of justice. It involved a young man called George Edalji who had been convicted of having slashed a number of horses and cows. Conan Doyle had observed that Edalji's eyesight was so bad, that it was proof the convict couldn't possibly have done the awful deed. Several years later, this remarkable man, who couldn't tolerate injustice, was captivated by yet another criminal cause célèbre. The Case of Oscar Slater, which he wrote in 1912, gives a detailed summary of that affair.

At long last, after nine years of clandestine courtship, Conan Doyle and Jean Leckie got married very publicly in front of 250 guests, on September 18, 1907. Continued...

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