Hello Amanda thank once again for joining me , can you start my telling us about your chosen author please.
Hi all, I have chosen Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the author I would like to talk about today. In truth it is hard for me to chose a favourite author but because of the importance of this year to Sir Arthur, himself, which I will discuss, it seemed apt for me to chose him for this interview. Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born to Charles Altamont Doyle and Mary Doyle née Foley on the 22nd May 1859 at Number 11 Picardy Place, Edinburgh. This makes the 22nd May 2019, Sir Arthur’s 160th birthday. I have been luckily enough to have been asked to advertise/celebrate this birthday by visiting places of importance to this man over this year and this interview is a wonderful start to this mission, so I thank you very much for asking me to explain what this man and indeed his mind means to me. Arthur’s parents had met because Mary was Charles’s landlady’s daughter and they had married on 31st July 1855. They would go on to have seven children in total that survived childhood, with two or possibly three children, sadly not surviving. However, less than ten years after their marriage, the Doyle family would suffer a major hardship. Charles Doyle, Arthur’s father, was not a well man at this point. Charles had a modest life so far, coming from a family of artists, he, himself was an illustrator and watercolourist, as well as being a civil servant, working for the Scottish Office of Works as a surveyor. His artworks could been seen in the 1861 edition of Robinson Crusoe, the 1860’s edition of Beauty and the Beast and the 1877 edition of Our Trip to Blunderland by Lewis Carroll, to name but a few. However, by 1864, Charles fell into depression and turned to alcohol, this affected the family greatly. The children were spilt up and placed around Edinburgh, but eventually they were back together again by 1867, however Charles’s problems were to continue and by 1885, he was a patient at Sunnyside, Montose Royal Lunatic Asylum. This was something that Arthur felt hard to deal with and the fact that he allowed his father to draw the illustrations for the 1888 edition of A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes’s first full novel, shows the closeness that father and son still had. In fact in later years, Sir Arthur was to write about his father, saying ‘He had his weaknesses, as all of us have ours, but he had also some very remarkable and outstanding virtues’. This meant that for many years, Arthur would have to have thanked his uncles for giving him a decent education, first at the Jesuit Preparatory School in Lancashire and then at Stonyhurst College, where it was said the Arthur did not enjoy his time. This is interesting to note as, it is hinted at and then developed more in books and films about Sherlock Holmes, that were not written by Sir Arthur, that Sherlock Holmes also did not enjoy his time at school. Arthur was also able to study in Austria in a school called Stella Matutina, which might explain the connections Sherlock Holmes has to this area of the world in later books. From the late 1870’s until 1881, Arthur had chosen his line of profession and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School and this was where he first caught the bug of writing, as he wrote a few short stories, such as The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe and The Mystery of Sasassa, as well as writing in the British Medical Journal, a study called ‘Gelsemium as a Poison’. A study, that gained him high praise and deemed useful for a murder investigation. While qualifying, Arthur became a doctor on ships called Hope and the SS Mayumba where he travelled to far off places such as, the West African coast, which may have been his inspiration behind his later books that were not Sherlock based. In 1882, Arthur was back on dry land and had joined his former classmate, George Budd, at his medical practice in Plymouth, however this did not last very long and with only a few thousand pounds to his name, he set up his own business at Number 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove, Southsea. This practise was not the success, patients were just not visiting him, so Arthur returned to his writing and within a few years, we readers had, Mr. Sherlock Holmes to read and enjoy.
What first drew my interest to that character that Sir Arthur had imagined in his books, I first thought was the Granada television series where Mr. Jeremy Brett plays Sherlock Holmes, in the most thought-provoking and remarkable way. However, I have recently found a well read copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles that my grandparents had brought me for my 5th birthday, plus I was and if I am honest, still am, a fan of the Walt Disney’s Basil the Great Mouse Detective. So I think Sherlock Holmes, as a character within a book, was always there, with me, before I even recognise that he was.
Answering what is my favourite book of Sir Arthur’s is a hard question indeed as I have two, one that is not really because of the story itself but because of personal reason I connect to it and the other is The Blue Carbuncle. It’s a Christmas Victorian story, you have got to love that surely!
As much as I am a fan of most of Sir Arthur’s work, for example I quite like his ghost stories too, I did find The Lost World hard to get into, it just didn’t seem to click with me, I don’t understand why, a part from knowing we don’t all like every book there is out there, do we?
I don’t own every novel that Sir Arthur has written, there is a personal reason for me to not have read a certain Sherlock Holmes novel because there is a certain time and probably a certain place, when I will read it and it’s not the time yet, but by doing this I know I always have something to look forward too. However, when I do read it, it will be in book form like all the others, you can’t replace the smell of a good book, can you?
Which story would I suggest anyone that had not read a Sherlock Holmes story before, to read first, is actually a hard question because one of the many qualities of this character is that you may have found him for whatever reason you chose to. So, you may find him because you love murder mysteries, or you love the Victorian era of London, or you love the people of the past, or maybe even you are a person that feels you are different to the world you are in, you feel lost and that people couldn’t possibly understand you, all the while, not noticing how very special you actually are. What story is best for you is something I believe you must find out for yourself, as there is a story for everyone.
Perhaps surprising, there is no question I would like to ask Sir Arthur. This is because for me, I don’t need to know personal events within his life, his life was his life. However, I would thank him for giving me a character that has always been with me. A character that takes away all the pains that modern life can bring people and a character that will never die (for more than two years anyway!). Sherlock Holmes is eternal.
Has Sir Arthur’s character, Sherlock Holmes, influenced my own work? Yes, of course he has in so many ways. The biggest possibly being that he is one of my main characters in my book, The Strange of Caroline Maxwell! The inspiration of Sir Arthur always feels close by, when I write.
If I could be any character from the Sherlock stories I would like to be either Kitty Winter or Violet Smith. I think those characters need more exploring and I feel we have only just glimpsed at what interesting and exciting characters they could be. Plus, the name of Kitty Winter, seems to suit this animal loving author, some say, crazy cat lady, quite well, don’t you think ?
Thank Amanda it's been a pleasure having you take part .