Hail! These Talents: Victor Hugo and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

One of the greatest writers in the world literature ever, Victor Hugo, passed away this day in 1885, and another master in literature, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born this day in 1859. This post is as special dedication to both of them.

Victor Hugo, one of the greatest French writers
Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo Monument
Monument of Victor Hugo in Palais Royal Garden

Victor Hugo was one of the most celebrated French author and creator of Les Miserables (The Miserable) and Notre Dame de Paris (Hunchback of Notre’ Dame).
Young Victor Hugo
Young Hugo

Our heartfelt tributes to this great man.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan DoyleSir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, the most famous fictional character in English literature, was born this day in 1859. When I started research on my History Today section after finishing a post on another topic, I found that today is the date of birth of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. How, then, can I ignore him in this blog on writing?

Sir Doyle, one of my most favorite authors and creator of my most favorite fictional character cannot be let down to a minor History Today section. So, I decided to dedicate this post to him, and to his eternal, evergreen character, Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes's Caricature
Sherlock Holmes in caricaturist's eye

Only a few characters became more famous than their creators. Sherlock Holmes of fictional 221B Baker Street room in Central London is the foremost in that list. In the entire history of fictional characters, his name is written first in golden letters.

Sir Doyle, a Scottish author and physician, was also the creator of other famed characters like Professor Challenger, Brigadier Gerard, and Holmes’s companion, Dr. John Watson.
Sherlock Holmes Statue or Monument in Edinburgh, England
Statue of Sherlock Holmes in Edinburgh, the birthplace of Sir Doyle

Sir Doyle wrote four full-length novels and fifty-six short stories in five collections featuring Sherlock Holmes. All these have been hugely popular with the masses. Soon enough, people started thinking that Sherlock Holmes was a real person, and they began searching for 221B Baker Street, where Holmes was imagined to sit across his companion and biographer, Dr Watson, smoking ponderously from his pipe.

Sir Doyle’s interest in creating newer and more brilliant characters and thirst to concentrate on political, historical, science, and romantic fields of fiction, made him cut down the number of Sherlock Holmes stories, and finally, in a story in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, ‘The Final Problem,’ Sir Doyle killed the legendary detective dropping him off a cliff. But that death received a worldwide outcry. Sherlock Holmes fans were everywhere, and they wanted more of his stories. They raised voice against the novelist, finally forcing him to resurrect Holmes.

And this pressure from the readers all around caused The Return of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of short stories, the first story of which, ‘The Empty House’ is my all-time favorite Sherlock Holmes story.

However, after the final collection of stories, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, the saga was dropped by Sir Doyle and he concentrated on other major writings. For this, the technique he used was quite admirable, at the same time deplorable, through the eyes of a Holmes fan. The Casebook is one volume of stories which I hate the most—illogical, simplistic, and worthless. They were outright predictable tales with silly characterization, made so by the author to estrange the fans of Sherlock Holmes from his character. That technique succeeded, and the fans wanted no more of his Sherlock Holmes stories, or at least their thirst faded out.

But Sherlock’s popularity would not end there. He endured decades and decades through pastiches, which are Sherlock Holmes stories written by people other than Sir Doyle. Sir Doyle’s list of stories is called the Canon. Even Stephen King wrote two pastiches of Sherlock Holmes in one of his short story collections. And so many professional and unpublished writers wrote many different stories of Sherlock Holmes and kept the detective alive for more than a century, making him foremost among fictional characters.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle studied medicine from Edinburgh University, and during those days he started writing stories. He published a short story before he turned 20. A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes novel, and perhaps the best work of art in which a character’s charismatic entrance is featured in all proportions, appeared in 1887. Being a doctor himself, Doyle found it easy to portray Dr. Watson as the biographer of Sherlock.

In 1902, following the publication of his pamphlet on the war in South Africa, he received the knighthood from the British government. He involved in a campaign for the reformation of Congo. And as an advocate of justice, he personally investigated two crime cases resulting in the exoneration of two imprisoned men.

By the death of his wife in 1906, and the deaths of his son and brother, Sir Doyle felt desolate and sought solace in spiritualism. On 7th July, 1930, the legendary writer passed away of heart attack, leaving behind a domain of himself for the mankind to remember him for ever. And he endures in the hearts of millions still.

Please find all the ebooks of Victor Hugo here for free download.

Amazon Links

Les Miserables
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
The Man Who Laughs
Victor Hugo: A Biography by Graham Robb

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Collection

Ebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Complete Sherlock Holmes
Exploits and Adventures of Brigadier Gerard
The White Company (Books of Wonder): A great work outside Sherlock saga
The Lost World (Not Michael Crichton’s; Sir Doyle also wrote a Lost World)
The Tragedy of the Korosko
The Complete Challenger (Adventures of Professor Challenger, another character from Sir Doyle)
Sir Nigel

Dear readers, I have updated some of the links within the older posts, with the publication of this post, in order to keep the link structure of the blog intact, for the better SEO.

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

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