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Sportsman, doctor, historian and writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) created one of the most enduring - indeed, legendary - characters in English literature: Sherlock Holmes, the brilliantly observational denizen of 221B Baker Street. Conan Doyle was born of Irish parents in Edinburgh and educated partly in Great Britain and partly in Germany. He qualified as a medical doctor in South-sea, but the absence of both patients and revenue persuaded him, as he himself has related, to turn his daydreams into imaginative writings. The result was a true stroke of genius, the creation of the great detective and his honest, down-to-earth colleague and 'chronicler', Dr Watson. In addition to his works of fiction, Conan Doyle was also a superb physical specimen and an avid boxer. In 1894 at Davos, Switzerland, he invented and subsequently popularized the concept of skiing as a sport. He also served as an army doctor in the war between England and the Boers of South Africa at the beginning of the 20th century, wrote a history of that war and was appointed official War Historian of the 1914-18 World War.
His keen sense of justice involved him in two notorious cases of mistaken identity, those of Edaljee in 1903 and Oscar Slater in 1909. Conan Doyle personally, at his own expense, fought the courts on behalf of these two men, both total strangers to him, because he felt that they had been wrongfully convicted. Conan Doyle was an idealist who believed in his country and 'fair play'. "In his writings, women tend to be modest, charming, faithful, beautiful and in need of defence. Gentlemen are honest, altruistic, gallant and brilliant. But Conan Doyle's fertile brain also conjured up an opposing criminal class of extraordinary depravity and ingenuity, led by the diabolical and brilliant Professor Moriarty, Holmes's arch enemy." - from "Buzan's Book of Genius", by Tony Buzan and Raymond Keene.