Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born the third of ten siblings on 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father, Charles Altamont Doyle, a talented illustrator, was born in England of Irish descent, and his mother, born Mary Foley, was Irish. They were married in 1855.
Although he is now referred to as “Conan Doyle”, the origin of this compound surname (if that is how he meant it to be understood) is uncertain. His baptism record in the registry of St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh gives ‘Arthur Ignatius Conan’ as his Christian name, and simply ‘Doyle’ as his surname. It also names Michael Conan as his godfather.
He created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887 for A Study in Scarlet, the first of four novels and fifty-six short stories about Holmes and Dr. Watson. The Sherlock Holmes stories are milestones in the field of crime fiction.
Doyle was a prolific writer; other than Holmes stories, his works include fantasy and science fiction stories about Professor Challenger and humorous stories about the Napoleonic soldier Brigadier Gerard, as well as plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction, and historical novels. One of Doyle’s early short stories, “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement” (1884), helped to popularise the mystery of the Mary Celeste.