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Arthur Conan Doyle, SPIRITUALISM and Harry Houdini

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Author Topic: Arthur Conan Doyle, SPIRITUALISM and Harry Houdini  (Read 1439 times)
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« on: May 17, 2007, 02:39:01 pm »

Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh on 22 May 1859. His mother, Mary, was of Irish extraction and traced her ancestry back to the famous Percy family of Northumberland and from there to the Plantagenet line. It is little wonder that the young Conan Doyle was told tales steeped in history which were to stand him in good stead when, in later years, he was to write his famous historical novels, The White Company, Sir Nigel, and Micah Clarke.

Although the world has chosen to remember Sir Arthur Conan Doyle chiefly for his creation of the fictional master detective, Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle's life, like the literary canvas he painted, was varied and highly interesting.

The effect of his father's alcoholism on Conan Doyle was profound and, whilst he chose to draw a veil over this particular topic in his autobiography Memories and Adventures, alcoholism is dealt with rather severely when it appears in his later fictional work.

In 1882, the enigmatic Dr George Turnavine Budd, whom Conan Doyle had first met when the two were students in Edinburgh, invited ACD to become his partner in a medical practice in Plymouth. Their relationship was a turbulent one, and ended with Conan Doyle moving to Southsea. It is perhaps fortunate for us that the break occurred when it did, for, although he built up an increasingly successful medical practice, it was during his quieter moments in Southsea that Conan Doyle expanded his literary activities—leading eventually to the creation of Sherlock Holmes and the detective's first appearance in A Study in Scarlet, which appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887.

Following the acceptance of A Study in Scarlet, for which he was paid the paltry sum of £25, Conan Doyle decided to test his powers to the full with a long historical novel. The outcome was the highly successful Micah Clarke, which finally appeared in 1889. It must have been pleasing to Conan Doyle that the novel became a topic of conversation between himself and Oscar Wilde when the two met, along with J.M. Stoddart of Lippincott's Magazine, for dinner in the summer of 1889—a dinner which ended with Conan Doyle receiving a commission to write a further Sherlock Holmes adventure (The Sign of the Four), and Wilde the commission for The Picture of Dorian Gray.

By 1890 Conan Doyle had resolved that a change was necessary and that he would journey to Vienna to study the eye. By the spring of 1891 the Doyles were back in London, renting rooms in Montague Place whilst Conan Doyle looked around for a suitable office where he could erect his plate as an oculist. He eventually found accommodation at 2 Upper Wimpole Street. The patients did not come, however, and, without even a ring at the doorbell to disturb him, he was able to devote his time to writing.

It was fortuitous that The Strand Magazine first saw publication at almost the same time, in January 1891, and that Conan Doyle took the opportunity on hand to revive the Sherlock Holmes of his two successful novels for a series of adventures. 'A Scandal in Bohemia' was the first to appear, in July 1891.

Whilst Conan Doyle continued to contribute Sherlock Holmes stories to The Strand, he became more and more anxious that he should be writing books that would make his a 'lasting name in English literature'. In November 1891 he wrote to his mother: 'I think of slaying Holmes . . . and winding him up for good and all. He takes my mind from better things.'

The idea of Holmes's death remained with him, and it seems that it was during a visit to Switzerland in 1893 that Conan Doyle was shown the Reichenbach Falls, which he was subsequently to choose as the location for the 'fatal' struggle between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty. 'The Final Problem', the adventure which was to bring the news of Holmes's death to a horrified nation, appeared in The Strand in December 1893.

Following a tour of Scandinavia and Holland in 1929, Conan Doyle returned to England exhausted, and suffered a heart attack. He remained weak and ill for several months and died at home on 7 July 1930.

« Last Edit: May 17, 2007, 02:56:55 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

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