Arthur Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh. He received his early education from Jesuits, but as an adolescent rejected Christianity, proclaimed himself an agnostic and later embraced Spiritualism. Attracted to both literature and medicine, Conan Doyle sold his first story to Chambers's Edinburgh Journal whilst studying to become a doctor at the University of Edinburgh. He completed his studies and established an unsuccessful ophthalmology practice in Plymouth. With few patients, Conan Doyle supplemented a rather meagre income through writing. His first major success came at the end of 1887, with the publication of A Study in Scarlet in Beeton's Christmas Annual. Published in book form the following summer, the short novel featured the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes. More works featuring the great detective soon followed, including the novel The Sign of Four (1890) and the twelve stories that, together, comprise The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892). By 1893, Conan Doyle had tired of Holmes and, intending to concentrate on historical novels, killed off the character in a story entitled 'The Final Problem'. However, in 1902 Conan Doyle bowed to public pressure and published a new Holmes novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles. That same year he received a knighthood - in recognition not of his great literary creation, but for his work as a propagandist during the Boer War.
Several more Sherlock Holmes books followed, the last being a collection of stories called The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927).