Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and Edinburgh

Blog 22 May 2015

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of one of Scotland’s most respected and well-known authors, though his most famous creation is more closely associated with English Capital city, London. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who possibly created the finest detective in fiction, Sherlock Holmes, was born and raised in Edinburgh and his mark is still felt in the city. Edinburgh and the people within it would inspire and influence the characters of his famous novels and short stories which have entertained millions, and it’s not just Sherlock Holmes.

Conan Doyle was born on the 22nd May 1859 at Picardy Place, though he left Edinburgh during his youth for his education, he eventually returned to his home city to study to be a physician at the University Of Edinburgh Medical School.

If you wish to witness a little of the education that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have received at the Medial School then you can visit Surgeons Hall Museum, located on Nicolson Street, when it reopens in the summer. It is here that Conan Doyle met Dr Joseph Bell who would prove to be the muse for Sherlock Holmes.

Dr Bell was a lecturer at the medical school and was said to instil a high importance in doctors using close examinations in order to make an accurate diagnosis, sound like someone? Bell died on the 4th of October 1911 and was buried at Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh, alongside his family.

Anyone wishing to see the grave of the inspiration behind Sherlock Holmes can find it in the northern section of the original cemetery midway along the north wall or you could visit his family residence at 2 Melville Street which is now the Japanese Consulate in Scotland.

It was not only Sherlock Holmes stories that Conan Doyle produced though, he wrote several fiction and non-fiction novels and short-stories on a variety of subjects. The most well-known, outside of Sherlock, would arguably be ‘The Lost World’, and the Professor Challenger stories.

Just like Sherlock Holmes, Professor Challenger was based on a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, William Rutherford, who by reports was a giant of a man with the occasional fiery outburst. He died at his home in Douglas Crescent, you pass this street quite easily on your way to the National Galleries.

In order to pay tribute and remember the impact Conan Doyle’s work has had on the City of Edinburgh, a large bronze statue of his famed creation Sherlock Holmes, standing in contemplation, is evident on Picardy Place, easily visible from the Edinburgh Playhouse.

I imagine that all this adventuring would probably leave you thirsty so you can always stop in for a pint at the Conan Doyle across the road from the Sherlock statue before setting off for more adventure… like a tour of the Highlands perhaps with Timberbush Tours? The game is afoot after all!