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5 Things We Love About Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

5 Things We Love About Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

By Beth Mishler

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of everyone’s favorite fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, celebrates his birthday 154th b-day today!  In honor of the man who brought us hours upon hours of literary entertainment and made it possible for us to watch Benedict Cumberbatch take the role of Sherlock to new heights, thus enriching our lives beyond measure, we have decided to highlight five very unique (some very un-Sherlock-ian!) things we love about Mr. ACD.

1. He completely and totally believed in fairies.

That's right. The man who created the character of Sherlock—a character known for strictly employing logical deduction and reasoning—believed in fairies? Totes! And we love the complete contrariness of it! In fact, he believed in fairies almost to his own detriment! In 1917, in what became known as the Cottingley Fairies incident, some pics featuring two teen girls posing with some fake-lookin’ fairies emerged on the cultural landscape. ACD reproduced the photos in one of his later books as evidence that fairies were real. The girls insisted the pics were legit up until the friggin 1980’s, when they were way old, and admitted the fairies were, in fact, cardboard cutouts! Yet ACD always believed them! Good thing Sherlock was a skeptic!

2. He thought Harry Houdini was mega-gifted, and the two were buds... at least for a while.

ACD and Houdini had a strange, unlikely, love/hate relationship that went on for several years, and finally ended when their varying takes on spirituality ended their bromance. ACD repeatedly told Houdini that his gifts with magic were from an out-of-this-world spiritual realm, while Houdini repeatedly insisted they were just illusions he himself created. When Houdini called Doyle’s beliefs “hogwash” and “applesauce,” in public, a tabloid-esque war that would make TMZ jealous emerged. We love a good bromantic drama, especially one where the word "applesauce" is used as an insult!

3. He kinda-sorta used the Holmes-ian method of deduction to actually free a wrongly imprisoned man!

ACD first heard about the case of Oscar Slater because it made headlines. Slater was accused and convicted of killing an elderly woman, and there was public outcry after his trial due to loads of inconsistencies the prosecution used in their case against him. Enter ACD, who examined the prosecution’s evidence, re-interviewed witnesses, and wrote a pamphlet of sorts, The Case of Oscar Slater, highlighting the mishandling of evidence in the case. After a police officer came forward with evidence he and fellow police deliberately withheld, Slater was released, and ACD was at least partly responsible.

4. He, like Watson, was an actual doctor.

A lot has been made of ACD being a very unsuccessful eye doctor before he became a writer, but he started writing during the time his practice was failing, so we all should be grateful for the failure, right? Still, ACD also served as a senior physician for a short time during the South African war (AKA the Boer War) and was later knighted for his efforts. We love knowing that the medical knowledge he imbued Watson with is legit!

5. Have you read The Lost World? It’s a pretty crazy fantasy novel!

While the Holmes series rightfully resides as Doyle’s crowning literary achievement, The Lost World is also kinda groundbreaking! Before Michael Crichton-penned Jurassic Park, or its sequel (also called The Lost World), ACD wrote this book about adventurers and scholars who get stranded on a dangerous (and dinosaur inhibited) island! ACD was clearly ahead of his time, no matter what he believed in!

What’s your fave fun fact about the late, great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?

Tags: sherlock holmes, sir arthur conan doyle, life, benedict cumberbatch, sherlock

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About the Author
Beth Mishler

Beth Mishler is a writer, producer, and pop culture connoisseur who has a weakness for the Whedonverse and all things sci-fi. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Beth currently lives in The Plains, Ohio, where she freelances, makes documentaries, and watches a kazillion hours of TV per week while anxiously awaiting the release of George R.R. Martin's next novel.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.

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