Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle DL (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a Scottish physician and writer who is most noted for his fictional stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered milestones in the field of crime fiction. He is also known for writing the fictional adventures of a second character he invented, Professor Challenger. He was a prolific writer whose other works include fantasy and science fiction stories, plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction, and historical novels.
Arthur Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 at 11 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland. His father, Charles Altamont Doyle, was born in England but of Irish descent, and his mother, born Mary Foley, was Irish. They married in 1855. In 1864 the family dispersed due to Charles’s growing alcoholism and the children were temporarily housed across Edinburgh. In 1867, the family came together again and lived in squalid tenement flats at 3 Sciennes Place.
Supported by wealthy uncles, Conan Doyle was sent to the Roman Catholic Jesuit preparatory school Hodder Place, Stonyhurst, at the age of nine (1868-1870). He then went on to Stonyhurst College until 1875. From 1875 to 1876, he was educated at the Jesuit school Stella Matutina in Feldkirch, Austria. Despite attending a Jesuit school, he would later reject the Catholic religion and become an agnostic.
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, as well as in Shropshire at Ruyton-XI-Towns. While studying, Conan Doyle began writing short stories. His earliest extant fiction, “The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe”, was unsuccessfully submitted to Blackwood’s Magazine. His first published piece “The Mystery of Sasassa Valley”, a story set in South Africa, was printed in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal on 6 September 1879. On 20 September 1879, he published his first non-fiction article, “Gelsemium as a Poison” in the British Medical Journal.
Following his studies at university, Conan Doyle was employed as a doctor on the Greenland whaler Hope of Peterhead, in 1880, and, after his graduation, as a ship’s surgeon on the SS Mayumba during a voyage to the West African coast, in 1881. He completed his doctorate on the subject of tabes dorsalis in 1885.
Doyle’s father died in 1893, in the Crichton Royal, Dumfries, after many years of psychiatric illness.