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Born in 1859, Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle grew up in poverty despite being born into a well-to-do family in Scotland. The son of an alcoholic father who struggled with mental illness, Doyle found solace in his mother's ability to tell him stories that allowed him to escape his real-world troubles. With help from extended family, Doyle traveled to England to attend school. While going to boarding school, he began writing fiction as a hobby and realized he inherited his mother's penchant for storytelling. Doyle decided to study medicine and eventually became a doctor. In the late 1800s, Doyle balanced a career as a doctor while also publishing his short stories. He created the characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and they immediately became popular. After the success of the Holmes and Watson mysteries, Doyle was able to close his medical practice and focus solely on his writing.
Although Doyle was a very learned man who wanted to write about various serious topics, readers clamored for more Sherlock Holmes stories. Extremely active in politics, Doyle announced his intention to help fight in the Boer War. When told he was too old to be a soldier, Doyle volunteered to serve as a medical doctor during the war. He wrote and published a nonfiction manuscript about his experiences and was knighted by King Edward VII for the work, which supported the choices of the British military during the war. Doyle eventually grew tired of writing Sherlock Holmes stories and decided to kill off the character. However, fans of Sherlock Holmes complained until Doyle brought the detective back in The Hound of the Baskervilles, which became one of his most popular novels.