|The Life of Sir Arthur
First Paperback: Pan GP20 (British) 1953
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was born in 1859 and died in 1930. Within those years was crowded that prodigious variety of activity and creative work which has made him so great a figure. In writing the life-story, John Dickson Carr (whose detective stories under his own name and his pseudonym Carter Dickson are world-renowned) was unusually fortunate, for Sir Arthur, as Dr. Watson is made to say of Sherlock Holmes, "had a horror of destroying documents" and a vast amount of material was available. "This is a story of adventure," writes Mr. Carr. "To paint in dull colours, to check the gallop, would be to misrepresent the man himself. The facts are these. When Conan Doyle speaks, he speaks in his own words..." So we have a narrative of exceptional vividness. Schoolboy at Stonyhurst; medical student at Edinburgh University; young doctor at Southsea, feverishly sending stories to magazines and then conceiving the brilliant idea of exploiting scientific criminology through the personality of Sherlock Holmes - such was Sir Arthur's early career. But tragedy laid hold of him; his wife was afflicted with a lingering illness, and he fell in love with another girl (it was ten years before he was free to marry her). Meanwhile he wrote a justification of British action in the Boer War, killed Sherlock Holmes and was compelled by public demand to resurrect him, and accepted a knighthood (under protest). Then he turned detective himself, and successfully championed the cause of two men wrongly committed - George Edalji and Oscar Slanter. Later came a new field of invention - The Lost World and the other "Professor Challenger" stories. His writings and his innumerable public activities made him one of the best-known figures of his time. Mr. Dickson Carr's biography (a Daily Mail Book of the Month) is packed with entertainment.