Crime and the Cultural Landscape: A Series on Detective Fiction

Arthur Conan Doyle

A Study in Scarlet (1859-1930)


  • Born in 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland, died of a heart attack in 1930.
  • Married Louise Hawkins in 1885 (d. 1906); married Jean Leckie in 1907; had two children, by his first marriage and three by his second.
  • Educated at Edinburgh University (B.M., 1881; M.D. 1885).
  • Served during the Boer War as chief surgeon of a field hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa (1900).
  • Knighted in 1902, in response to his pamphlet defending British actions in the Boer War.


  • Early professional work included being a physician's assistant (in Birmingham), a ship's surgeon on voyages to the Arctic and the west coast of Africa, a physician (in Portsmouth) and an ophthalmologist (in London); gave up the practice of medicine in 1891 and supported his family on the income from his writing.
  • A prolific writer, who wrote in virtually every prose form; never quite happy with the fact that his fame rested primarily on his creation of Sherlock Holmes.
  • Lectured on spiritualism in Europe, Australia, the United States, Canada, South Africa, and Sweden.

"Sherlock Holmes" Detective Fiction

A Study in Scarlet (1887)
The Sign of Four (1890)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (short stories) (1892)
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (short stories) (1893)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)
The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905)
The Valley of Fear (1915)
His Last Bow: Some Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes (short stories) (1917)
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (short stories) (1927)

In addition to the Sherlock Holmes stories, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 12 novels, 6 historical novels, nearly 20 collections of short stories, about the same number of plays, and poems, histories, political pamphlets, and innumerable works on spiritualism.

Biographical Sources, Critical Sources and Reviews

  • For critical and biogrphical information, see the following Gale publications:  Contemporary Authors, Volumes 104 and 122; Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 18: Victorian Novelists After 1885, Volume 70: British Mystery Writers, 1860-1919, Volume 178: British Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Before World War I; and Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Volume 7 [contains portrait].   Gale Literary Database (Contemporary Authors Online) can be accessed online through a subscribing library at
  • Other print resources:
    The Doctor, the Detective, and Arthur Conan Coyle: A Biography of Arthur Conan Doyle, Martin Booth, 1997.
    The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    , John Dickson Carr, 1949.
    Adventure, Mystery, and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture, John G. Cawelti, Chicago, 1976.
    The World of Sherlock Holmes, Harrison, 1973.
    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Detecting Social Order, New York, 1995.
    Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His World, H. D. F. Keating, 1979.
    Unpopular Opinions, Dorothy Sayers, 1946.
    The Baker Street Reader: Cornerstone Writings About Sherlock Holmes, ed. Philip A. Shreffler, 1984.

Retired Discussion Series

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