May 22nd 1859 saw the birth of Arthur Conan Doyle in Edinburgh.
Every one knows who Conan Doyle is, but the name Conan as we use it today was not part of his surname , his full name was Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, Ignatius and Conan were middle names, Shortly after he graduated from high school he began using Conan as part of his surname.
Doyle was friends with J M Barrie, Bram Stoker, and Robert Louis Stevenson was a fellow classmate at the University of Edinburgh. As well as being a keen Cricketer, under the pseudonym AC Smith, he played as a goalkeeper for amateur side Portsmouth Association Football Club, a precursor of the modern Portsmouth FC.
Sherlock might have been a sceptic but Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies. Well, he was convinced by the Cottingley Fairy photographs, the famous 1917 hoax. He even spent a million dollars promoting them and wrote a book, The Coming of the Fairies on their authenticity, at this time he had a public fall out with another celebrity friend Harry Houdini, who at the same time was trying to disprove the claims of the Spiritualist movement.
Conan Doyle also had another very public disagreement about the Titanic disaster. He was outraged by the dismissive and bitter comments made by the playwright regarding the many acts of heroics that took place aboard the ship as it went down.
Arthur Conan Doyle didn’t just write mysteries, he actually solved a few. One of particular interest to him was The Curious Case of Oscar Slater - for the murder of Marion Gilchrist, a wealthy 82-year-old woman from Glasgow. Doyle applied the “Holmes method”, in which he uncovered new evidence, recalled witnesses and questioned the prosecution’s evidence. His findings were published as a plea for Slater’s pardon. It caused a sensation and there were calls for a retrial, but all this was promptly ignored by the Scottish authorities. The desperate and incarcerated Slater later smuggled messages out of prison and Doyle’s interest in the case was reignited. He wrote to politicians and used his own money to fund Slater’s legal fees. Ramsay MacDonald heard about this and told told the Scottish Secretary that the police and the legal authorities had colluded to withhold evidence and influence witnesses. Slater was subsequently released from prison with £6,000 compensation.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died on July 7, 1930. He collapsed in his garden, clutching his heart with one hand and holding a flower in the other. His last words were to his wife. He whispered to her: “You are wonderful.”