Featured Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Posted by Patricia @ Lady with Books
As readers, we have our favorite authors. Some of them we go back to again and again and get incredibly excited when news of a new book by those authors reaches us. Whether it is a set of characters we adore, a type of writing style we like, or merely a genre the author writes in that we enjoy, we all have our reasons for liking our favorite authors. This post will feature one of my favorite authors, what I like about them, and a couple books I would suggest to other readers.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I decided I wasn’t going to focus on just modern authors and so I will feature my favorite Victorian author and the greatest detective to ever live. Doyle was a Scottish physician and writer most famous for his character Sherlock Holmes, which was his longest running and most popular creation. It is a creation that is still going strong with new movies and TV shows coming out today. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law reprise the characters of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in the two Sherlock movies. Not only are they two of my favorite actors, they both excelled in their roles and I adore the Sherlock Holmes movies even though I don’t see them as Doyle’s characters. The movies are, however, a wonderful and hilarious adaptation. Yesterday, January 6th, was Sherlock’s 159th birthday assuming that he was, as people believe, born on January 6th 1854 as thought given information from the short story His Last Bow. Sherlock first appeared in A Study in Scarlet in 1887 and was featured in a total of 56 short stories and four novels.
Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson.” The closest he comes is in The Crooked Man when he says just the word “Elementary”. Holmes did say “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” in the novel The Sign of the Four.
Doyle was not overly fond of his creation and in December 1893 attempted to kill off Holmes by plunging him to his death along with his nemesis Professor Moriarty down the Reichenbach Falls in the story The Final Problem.
Doyle was not overly concerned with remembering details. Watson’s war wound is said to be both at his shoulder or his leg at different times. When he first introduces himself to Holmes he says he “keeps a bull pup” but no sign of the dog is ever seen in the stories. People suggest that this is slang for Watson saying he has a temper.
Favorite Book: The Hound of the Baskervilles
When Doyle attempted to kill Holmes in 1893, public outcry was so fierce that he brought the character back in 1901 in The Hound of the Baskervilles, although it was set in a time before the Reichenbach incident. In 1903, Doyle brought Holmes back permanent in The Adventure of the Empty House. Of the four novels Doyle wrote, The Hound of the Baskervilles is my favorite. It was originally serialized in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902. Holmes and Watson are called out to Dartmoor in Devon to investigate a huge spectral hound terrorizing the Baskervilles lords. Of course, Holmes ferrets out the truth and is a complete jerk while doing it. I think half the fun of Holmes is the fact that he doesn’t mince words or soften his blows. He’s a bit of a jerk and sees his actions as a means to an end, even going so far to use his only friend Watson as a tool in the investigation. I don’t enjoy many older authors. I find their writing stilted and with a tone that is just too far removed for me to be comfortable with. But while the Sherlock Holmes stories are sparse and quick, they still manage to wrap me up in them. I’d suggest to anyone that they check out the greatest detective in the world and see where modern detective and crime stories originated from.
We owe The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) to Arthur Conan Doyle’s good friend Fletcher “Bobbles” Robinson, who took him to visit some scary English moors and prehistoric ruins, and told him marvelous local legends about escaped prisoners and a 17th-century aristocrat who fell afoul of the family dog. Doyle transmogrified the legend: generations ago, a hound of hell tore out the throat of devilish Hugo Baskerville on the moonlit moor. Poor, accursed Baskerville Hall now has another mysterious death: that of Sir Charles Baskerville. Could the culprit somehow be mixed up with secretive servant Barrymore, history-obsessed Dr. Frankland, butterfly-chasing Stapleton, or Selden, the Notting Hill murderer at large? Someone’s been signaling with candles from the mansion’s windows. Nor can supernatural forces be ruled out. Can Dr. Watson–left alone by Sherlock Holmes to sleuth in fear for much of the novel–save the next Baskerville, Sir Henry, from the hound’s fangs?
Quotes from Arthur Conan Doyle:
“The love of books is among the choicest gifts of the gods.”
“What one man can invent, another can discover.”
“The unexpected has happened so continually in my life that it has ceased to deserve the name.”
“There is no scent so pleasant to my nostrils as that faint, subtle reek which comes from an ancient book.”
Rare interview with Arthur Conan Doyle
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