Physician and novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was born on this day in Edinburgh, Scotland. He wrote his first book at age six and is best known for the creation of master detective Sherlock Holmes.
"Where there is no imagination," Doyle said, "there is no horror."
Inspired by the works of Edgar Allen Poe, Doyle based Holmes on his professor from medical school. "There is nothing as deceptive as an obvious fact," Doyle once said.
Holmes, along with his friend Dr. John H. Watson (the good-natured narrator), first appeared in A Study in Scarlet (1887) and was what Doyle called "a scientific detective, who solved cases on his own merits and not through the folly of the criminal."
"Elementary, my dear Watson," Holmes would say, his hobbies in his Baker Street bachelor pad included playing the violin and smoking a pipe.
With four novels and 60 short stories featuring the deductive-reasoning Holmes, Doyle successfully gave up his medical career to write full-time. At one point he tried (unsuccessfully) to kill off Holmes and concentrate on historical and romance writing.
"It has long been an axiom of mine," observed Doyle, "that the little things are infinitely the more important."
Later in life, the writer became an advocate of spiritualism which he called "a natural extension of science."
"Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius," he said.