Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Biography

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Years later he wrote, "Perhaps it was good for me that the times were hard, for I was wild, full blooded and a trifle reckless. But the situation called for energy and application so that one was bound to try to meet it. My mother had been so splendid that I could not fail her." It has been said that Arthur's first task, when back from school, was to co-sign the committal papers of his father, who by then was seriously demented.

One can get a fairly good idea of the dramatic circumstances which surrounded the confinement of his father to a lunatic asylum, in a story Arthur Conan Doyle wrote in 1880, called The Surgeon of Gaster Fell.

Family tradition would have dictated the pursuit of an artistic career, yet Arthur decided to follow a medical one. This decision was influenced by Dr. Bryan Charles Waller, a young lodger his mother had taken-in to make ends meet. Dr. Waller had trained in the University of Edinburgh and that is where Arthur was sent to carry out his medical studies.

The young medical student met a number of future authors who were also attending the university, such as for instance James Barrie and Robert Louis Stevenson. But the man who most impressed and influenced him, was without a doubt, one of his teachers, Dr. Joseph Bell. The good doctor was a master at observation, logic, deduction, and diagnosis. All these qualities were later to be found in the persona of the celebrated detective Sherlock Holmes.

A couple of years into his studies, Arthur decided to try his pen at writing a short story. Although the result called The Mystery of Sasassa Valley was very evocative of the works of Edgar Alan Poe and Bret Harte, his favorite authors at the time, it was accepted in an Edinburgh magazine called Chamber's Journal, which had published Thomas Hardy's first work. Continued...

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