Arthur Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh into a prosperous Irish family. He trained as a doctor, gaining his degree from Edinburgh University in 1881.
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He worked as a surgeon on a whaling boat and also as a medical officer on a steamer travelling between Liverpool and West Africa. He then settled in Portsmouth on the English south coast and divided his time between medicine and writing.
Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance in A Study of Scarlet, published in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887. Conan Doyle was paid £25 for this story. Its success encouraged Conan Doyle to write more stories involving Holmes. The name, his household of Dr Watson and the housekeeper, Mrs Hudson, his address in Baker Street - all became household names.
But, in 1893, Conan Doyle killed off Holmes, hoping to concentrate on more serious writing. A public outcry ensued later forcing him resurrect Holmes. One of his most famous stories, The Hound of the Baskervilles, followed this revival.
Conan Doyle did succeed in writing a number of novels on other subjects, including The Tragedy of Korosko, Rodney Stone, A Duet with an Occasional Chorus, and The Lost World. These included a pamphlet justifying Britain's involvement in the Boer War, for which he was knighted and histories of the Boer War and World War One, in which his son, brother and two of his nephews were killed.
Conan Doyle also twice ran unsuccessfully for Parliament. In later life he became very interested in spiritualism.