Conan Doyle : The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes, Paperback Book

Conan Doyle : The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes Paperback

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Ground-breaking biography of the creator of fiction's best loved detective Though Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's name is recognised the world over, for decades he was overshadowed by his creation, Sherlock Holmes - one of literature's most enduring characters.

Conan Doyle was a man of many contradictions. Romantic, energetic, idealistic and upstanding, he could also be selfish and foolhardy.

Lycett assembles the many threads of Conan Doyle's life, including the lasting impact of his domineering mother and his alcoholic father; his affair with a younger woman while his wife lay dying; and his fanatical pursuit of scientific data to prove and explain various supernatural phenomena. Lycett combines access to new material with assiduous research and penetrating insight to offer the most comprehensive, lucid and sympathetic portrait yet of Conan Doyle's personal journey from student to doctor, from world-famous author to ardent spiritualist.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 600 pages, 40
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Biography: general
  • ISBN: 9780753824283

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This was a very comprehensive and readable biography. While knowing this point already, I was struck again by the fact that Sherlock Holmes represents a fairly small portion of his life and output, and not one that he initially rated highly, until its great success changed his attitude to some extent. That said, it felt like the Holmes stories were what he wrote to bring in the financial security to enable him to focus on the things about which he cared most, chiefly his evolving spiritualist beliefs and accompanying lecture tours, and his attempts at military history. The development of those beliefs in the supernatural is a theme running throughout the book, from his early attempts to reconcile his scientifically-rooted medical knowledge with his instinctive belief in a God (though not necessarily the Catholic God of his upbringing and schooling), to his more determined pursuit of spiritualism especially during and after the First World War. The (in)famous Cottingley fairies incident is dealt with quite briefly, though. Doyle emerges as a man of contradictions who wasn’t afraid to face ridicule or unpopularity. He was a man of science with a passionate and utterly sincerely held belief in life after death; he was an Empire loyalist staunchly supporting Britain in the Boer war, but who passionately supported the plight of the native Congolese suffering under Belgian rule; he was a man of fairly conventional political views but who supported victims of miscarriages of justice such as Oscar Slater and George Edalji.This contains a very full genealogical table –unusual for a biography of a non-Royal/aristocratic subject – but there are a number of discrepancies between it and dates given in the text. It also includes an afterword detailing the sordid attempts by his children and other literary heirs to profit from his estate. 5/5