Author(s): Andrew Lycett
Sherlock Holmes might have been the epitome of cool reason - 'a calculating machine' in the words of his friend Dr John H. Watson - but the real life of his creator was very different. A man of deep emotion, complex motivation and prodigious energy, Arthur Conan Doyle ended his life an ardent spiritualist, happy to promote the famous 'Cottingley Fairies' photographs, which are now known to have been faked. Having rejected his Irish family's Catholicism, he could not, for all his scientific training as a doctor, dismiss his gut feeling that there was another dimension to existence. Well before he adopted spiritualism as a religion during the First World War, he dabbled in all aspects of the paranormal, holding seances while a GP in Portsmouth. With his sure understanding of the historical background, Andrew Lycett sets this unfolding story against the intellectual currents of the age, as well as unravelling his subject's internal life.Plagued by an alcoholic father and stirred on by a domineering mother, Conan Doyle fell into a placid marriage which was rudely interrupted when he fell passionately in love with another woman, just as his first wife contracted the tuberculosis that would kill her. Conan Doyle dealt with these traumatic events by throwing himself even more into his work, taking up various causes (such as the injustice meted out on the solicitor George Edalji - the subject of Julian Barnes's best-selling novel ARTHUR & GEORGE) and immersing himself in a wide range of other activities, including politics, clubland, and sports. His literary output was not confined to the creation of fiction's most famous detective; Lycett sheds new light on Conan Doyle's horror and occult stories, historical romances, factual histories, and spiritualist tracts. With access to fascinating new material, Lycett gives the most comprehensive, psychologically satisfying and delightfully readable portrait yet of the man who created Sherlock Holmes.