Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The creator of Sherlock Holmes

One of VisitEngland’s 2017 Year of Literary Heroes

VisitEngland has declared 2017 the “Year of Literary Heroes” and one of the heroes is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He is closely connected to South-East England and spent time in Portsmouth (www.visitportsmouth.co.uk/conandoyle) and Crowborough, East Sussex. He is buried in the heart of the New Forest at Minstead churchyard. In Portsmouth he played in the local team as goalkeeper and also first discovered Spiritualism.

On 18th September 1907 Sir Arthur married Miss Jean Leckie at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster, London. Soon after this they moved into Windlesham on the outskirts of Crowborough in East Sussex. The house had been extended by some 50% entirely around Sir Arthur’s specification. Three children were born and educated in Crowborough, Denis Percy Stewart (1909), Malcolm Adrian (1910) and Lena Jean Annette (1912).

In 1914 at the outbreak of World War One, Sir Arthur formed a local home guard unit; this was later replaced by an official body in which he served as a private.

He invented the naval life jacket, persuaded the army to adopt the steel helmet and before WWI, warned in vain of the menace of U-boats. When he died, one of his greatest contemporaries, Sir Winston Churchill, said of him – “I had great admiration for him. Of course I read every Sherlock Holmes story, but the works I liked even more than the detective stories were the great historical novels which, like Sherlock Holmes, have certainly found a permanent place in English literature“.

As the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur is best remembered. In truth he also wrote many poems, historical, novels, science fiction adventures and war histories.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died at his Crowborough home, Windlesham, in East Sussex, at 8.17 am on July 7th 1930. On July 11th, a fine and sunny day, he was buried in the grounds of Windlesham, just beside his garden hut, which was erected for him as a writing room. In 1955 the last of the Crowborough estate grounds were sold out of the family. The remains of Sir Arthur and his wife Lady Jean Conan Doyle, were removed and reburied at All Saints Church, Minstead in the New Forest, Hampshire, where they rest to this day.

2017 marks the 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes publication. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was published in October 1892; the book was the first collection of Holmes stories, which Conan Doyle had been publishing in magazines since 1887.

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