All about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes

06 July 2020
We get to know more about the man behind the iconic Sherlock Holmes character.
Holmes and Watson movie Arthur Doyle article image

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, most famous for creating the beloved detective Sherlock Holmes was a diverse man who enjoyed a varied career not only as a writer, but also as a doctor, public figure, and journalist.

Holmes and his partner, Dr John H Watson, have managed to enchant people generation after generation, and remain relevant due to various remakes be it film or television. Doyle's books continue to be published to today.

The latest movie instalment, Holmes and Watson, is a humorous take on their escapades.

But we're also intrigued about their creator so here are these remarkable facts about Doyle.

Early life

  • Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • His mother, Mary, loved books and thoroughly enjoyed telling stories. In his autobiography, Doyle wrote: "In my early childhood, as far as I can remember anything at all, the vivid stories she would tell me stand out so clearly that they obscure the real facts of my life."
  • When he was 9-years-old, wealthier family members decided to pay for his studies in England at a Jesuit boarding school.

Student days

  • Doyle most likely decided to study medicine back in Edinburgh after being influenced by Dr Bryan Charles Waller, a man who rented rooms in his parents' home.
  • While studying, he crossed paths with numerous future authors such as James Matthew Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, and Robert Louis Stevenson who penned classic books such as Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, among others.
  • While studying, he wrote his first short story, The Mystery of Sasassa Valley, which was published in a local magazine, Chamber's Journal.

  • During his third year of studying, he was given the chance to be an on-board surgeon on the Hope, a whaling boat making its way to the Arctic Circle. He accepted. "I went on board the whaler a big straggling youth" he said, "I came off a powerful, well-grown man."


  • According to the Arthur Conan Doyle website,  he started writing the novel which garnered him fame in 1886. Initially, it was called A Tangled Skein with the two main characters named Ormond Sacker and Sheridan Hope. However, it was published  later under a different title with renewed character names. "[It] was published in Beeton's Christmas Annual, under the title A Study in Scarlet which introduced us to the immortal Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson."

  • When visiting London, Joseph Marshall Stoddart, managing editor of Lippincott's monthly magazine in the US invited Doyle and Oscar Wilde to the Langham Hotel for dinner. "It was indeed a golden evening for me," wrote Doyle of that meeting. Stoddart commissioned Doyle to write another short novel, The Sign of Four, which established Holmes as a solid figure in the literary world.
  • Sidney Paget is the illustrator behind the creation of the famous image of Holmes smoking a pipe and wearing a suit, one that remains synonymous with Holmes to this day.

  • Published in 1893, The Final Problem sees Holmes and Professor Moriarty killed at the Reichenbach Falls, much to the outcry of fans.
  • But Holmes returned in The Hound of the Baskervilles, published in The Strand in August 1901, written as an adventure that wasn't published before, instead of resurrecting the character.
  • While not really known for his other works, Doyle wrote non-fictional pieces, including poetry and a pamphlet to justify Britain's involvement in the Boer War, for which he was knighted.

Later life

  • In his later years, he nursed his interest in spirituality by travelling to different parts of the world.
  • He passed away on 7 July 1930.


  • Before writing his first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, Doyle had written The Narrative of John Smith, which his publisher never received because it got lost in the post. The author tried to reconstruct it, but it was never completed. According the BBC, it was found and subsequently published in 2011.

Sources: Arthur Conan Doyle and the BBC

Watch Holmes and Watson your Sunday night movie on 12 July at 20:05 on M-Net channel 101.

If you miss any of these movies on M-Net 101 you can always watch them on DStv Catch Up or on M-Net Movies Premiere channel 104.

Join the conversation online, find us on Twitter (@MNet), Instagram (@mnettv), and Facebook (@MNet) using the hashtag #MNet101.