Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Doyles were a prosperous Irish-Catholic family. Charles Altamont Doyle, Arthur's father, a chronic alcoholic, was a moderately successful artist, who apart from fathering a brilliant son, never accomplished anything of note. At the age of twenty-two, Charles had married Mary Foley, a vivacious and well educated young woman of seventeen.
Mary Doyle had a passion for books and was a master storyteller. Her son Arthur wrote of his mother's gift of "sinking her voice to a horror-stricken whisper" when she reached the culminating point of a story. There was little money in the family and even less harmony on account of his father's excesses and erratic behaviour. Arthur's touching description of his mother's beneficial influence is also poignantly described in his autobiography, "In my early childhood, as far as I can remember anything at all, the vivid stories she would tell me stand out so clearly that they obscure the real facts of my life."
After Arthur reached his ninth birthday, the wealthy members of the Doyle family offered to pay for his studies. He was in tears all the way to England, where he spent seven years in a Jesuit boarding school. Arthur loathed the bigotry surrounding his studies and rebelled at corporal punishment, which was prevalent and incredibly brutal in most English schools of that epoch.
During those gruelling years, Arthur's only moments of happiness were when he wrote to his mother, a regular habit that lasted for the rest of her life, and also when he practised sports, mainly cricket, at which he was very good. It was during these difficult years at boarding school that Arthur realized he also had a talent for storytelling. He was often found surrounded by a bevy of totally enraptured younger students listening to the amazing stories he would make up to amuse them.
By 1876, graduating at the age of seventeen, Arthur Doyle, (as he was called, before adding his middle name "Conan" to his surname), was a surprisingly normal young man. With his innate sense of humour and his sportsmanship, having ruled out any feelings of self-pity, Arthur was ready and willing to face the world.
To read his full biography, click HERE.
1930 interview with Sherlock Holmes writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Believed to be the only filmed interview with Conan Doyle. He talks about Holmes and Spiritualism.
Undershaw in 2010.B (orrowed from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Undershaw2010.jpg)
Undershaw in the News
Over the past couple of years there has been much controversy on whether to keep Conan Doyle's home as it is and save the integrity of the home, or to renovate and turn it into flats.