Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Biography

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

v     Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a writer and doctor, famous for his detective series about Sherlock Holmes. He used his medical knowledge in his writing.

v     Doyle also wrote poetry, seven plays, over twenty novels covering fantasy, sci-fi, and historical genres, sixteen short story collections, and seventeen non-fiction works.

v     Doyle is one of the first great pop fiction writers. While he was very popular in his lifetime, he never won any major literary award, and his stories are not considered fine literature (nie su považovaný za slovesnosť).

v     Besides Sherlock Holmes, Doyle wrote a series of novels, starting with The Lost World, about the scientist Professor Challenger, who travels to the Amazon and discovers real, live dinosaurs.

v     Doyle also wrote "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement", about the real life mystery of the merchant ship, the Mary Celeste, found derelict (plávajúci vrak) and abandoned (opustený) by her crew in perfect condition in fine weather.
The Mary Celeste, found derelict in 1872
      The sails were still up, and she was heading for the Strait of Gibralter (Loď smerovala k Gibraltáru), with six months of food, and all the crew's things just as they'd left them. The crew (posádka) were never heard from again. Only one life boat was missing.

v     Doyle stressed the importance of justice in criminal investigation, leading him to investigate two closed cases in real life, leading to the exoneration (oslobodenie) of two innocent men, and the creation of the Court of Criminal Appeal (odvolací súd), to give felons (zločinci) a second chance.

Personal Life:

Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, raised in Scotland, had a troubled childhood due to his father's drinking and depression. His family split apart, and lived in poverty. Arthur was lucky to have rich uncles, who paid for his education in Catholic schools. It was a strict environment, and led him to become agnostic, not believing in God.

In 1876 he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He began writing mysteries at this time, and his academic writing, "Gelsemium as a Poison," sounds like something right out of Sherlock Holmes. He became ship's doctor on a number of vessels, sailing around the world.

At age 26 he married his first wife, Mary Louise. She died after 21 years of marriage from tuberculosis. The following year, he married Jean Elizabeth, whom he'd loved for years, but never told. He had five children, all told.

Doyle wrote The Great Boer War in 1900, defending England's war in South Africa, for which he was knighted (bol pasovaný za rytierov). That's why he's called "Sir".

The death of Doyle's first wife was soon followed by a long line of family members, leading to severe depression, and a new belief in spiritualism - belief in ghosts and supernatural powers like telepathy. Doyle became member of several ghost hunting clubs, and he was fooled into believing many con artists (podfukári), as well as the Cottingley Fairy photographs, which were later exposed as a hoax  (podvod). In 1920 he debated the skeptic Joseph McCabe in Queen's Hall, London, as to the existence of ghosts.

The Cottingley fairy photos were supposed to prove their existence.

Doyle was also friends with the great magician Harry Houdini, but they had a falling out, as Houdini kept pointing out the tricks of Doyle's favourite mystics. Doyle believed that Houdini himself had supernatural powers.

Doyle died, age 71, of a heart attack. His last words were to his wife, "You are wonderful."

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