A great man's birthday

Posted by Tory Historian Saturday, May 22, 2010 , ,

Tory Historian returns after a short absence (caused by technical difficulties, now resolved) with news of a great man's birthday. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writer, historian, and real-life detective was born on May 22, 1859 in Edinburgh, a city that, in many ways, shaped his thinking and imagination. Often the descriptions of London in the Sherlock Holmes stories seem to be a little too small for what was by then a teeming metropolis but give a good impression of the Scottish capital.

Sir Arthur's biography is very well worth reading - he was a man of many talents and wide interests, which sometimes led him into difficulties such as the infamous case of those fairies in the photographs taken by two girls who many years later admitted to faking them.

Somehow that silly story does not seem as important as, for instance, Conan Doyle's own detective work that defended two outsiders, George Edalji and Oscar Slater, proving their innocence.

Above all, there are the great literary works. Conan Doyle's historical novels are not as widely read as they deserve to be or as he would have liked but is there anybody in the world who has not heard of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson even though much of what people know is wrong and most of the quotations are incorrect. (Though the one about the curious behaviour of the dog in the night is correct. It is in Silver Blaze, an excellent story.) The picture Tory Historian has selcted is that of Peter Cushing and Nigel Stock from a remarkably good TV series of the late sixties. Nigel Stock had also played Dr Watson with Douglas Wilmer. Much as Tory Historian likes Michael Williams in the radio adaptations of the stories, Nigel Stock remains unrivalled.

But let us not forget another great character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and that is the heavily bearded, irascible scientist, Professor Challenger, hero of The Lost World and several other tales. The picture shows Wallace Beery as the professor in the 1925 film of the book.

2 comments

  1. The best gift Sir Arthur gave to posterity, I think, is permission during his lifetime for people to enlarge the canon and make their own changes to it.

     
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