Young Arthur: 1859-1882

Early Years

Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1859. His father, Charles Altamont Doyle, struggled with alcohol and mental illness, and the children were supported by several wealthy relations. Young Arthur was educated in England and Austria, but returned to Edinburgh in 1876 to study medicine. Here, he began writing, while continuing his studies as a doctor and his first short story to be professionally published, The Mystery of Sasassa Valley, appeared in 1879.

The Young Doctor

Conan Doyle’s first professional appointment as a doctor came in 1880 with a stint aboard an Arctic whaler. He graduated from medical school a year later, and returned to nautical life working as the ship’s surgeon on a voyage down the West African coast.

Upon his return to Britain, Conan Doyle joined a former colleague, George Budd, at his practice in Plymouth. The partnership soon collapsed, and in June 1882 Conan Doyle landed in Portsmouth. With only £10 to his name, he opened a practice at Bush Villas on Elm Grove, Southsea, and threw himself into community life. While building his practice, he networked by playing sport and joining local groups. He continued writing in his spare time.

A portrait of a young Arthur Conan Doyle at the age of 4

A portrait of a young Arthur Conan Doyle at the age of 4. This photograph was most likely taken while living in Edinburgh

Arthur Conan Doyle stands in the middle of the crew of the Eira, an arctic exploration ship with several other men

Arthur Conan Doyle stands in the middle of the crew of the Eira, an arctic exploration ship. The ship met up with Conan Doyle’s vessel, the Hope, in July of 1880