The Adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle by Russell Miller

From The Telegraph:

Conan “All our lives have been but a preparation for this supreme moment,” wrote Arthur Conan Doyle in 1914. He happened to be writing this sentence in a propaganda pamphlet to muster public opinion against Germany in the Great War, but it could have been written at almost any moment in his life, with any number of objects in mind. Conan Doyle was a man for the supreme moment. His enthusiasms – detective fiction, the Channel Tunnel, submarines or motor cars – and some of his animosities – miscarriages of justice, inequitable divorce laws – were, for the first part of his life, broadcasts to a sleepy population from someone alert to the rhythms of the future.

His later enthusiasms, for spiritualism and fairies, were not so in step.

Russell Miller is serviceable on the story of his subject’s life and works. We get the facts: the family background, his father’s alcoholism and madness, his Catholic education and subsequent scepticism, his medical studies and career, his married lives. The “Adventures” of the title is, however, putting it strongly: Miller shows none of his subject’s narrative swagger. After Conan Doyle made his doomed attempt to kill off Sherlock Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls, the Strand magazine lost 20,000 subscribers, and workers in the City of London wore mourning crêpe tied around their top hats. Conan Doyle was assaulted in the street. “It was as if a god had been destroyed by treachery,” one critic wrote. But Conan Doyle had had enough of his greatest and most profitable creation. He wanted respect as a writer of historical romances. And he had his causes to fight.

More here.