Above: The house in Tenison Road, now in use as flats.
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a Scottish writer and physician, most remembered today for creating the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. In writing stories about him, which are generally considered milestones in the field of crime fiction, Doyle tried to demonstrate that a few simple observations could be used to tell a great deal about a person. He was writing in at a time when even finger-prints as evidence had not been introduced into Police work.
The character Sherlock Holmes meets Dr Watson in the opening pages of the first novel called ‘A Study in Scarlet’, published in 1887. The publisher had given Doyle £25.00 for the full rights to the story.
Above: Plaque on the house in Tenison Road.
For a few years Doyle lived in a large house in South London – 12 Tennison Road, a short distance from Norwood Junction Station. The house is in the London Borough of Croydon. The Greater London Council plaque was erected in 1973. Doyle lived there between 1891 and 1894 which was only a short time after the first story about Sherlock Holmes had been published. By then he was writing further stories but, because they were beginning to take up too much of the his time he decided to write a story called ‘The Final Problem’ in which Sherlock Holmes ‘dies’ in a dramatic fall at the perilous Reichenbach Falls, in Switzerland. That story was written while living at the house in South Norwood.
Such was the clamour by the public that Doyle was persuaded to find a story-line that would bring Sherlock Holmes ‘back to life’ and the famous series – a total of 56 short stories and four longer stories – continued until 1927. Doyle died three years later. He was found clutching his chest in the hall of Windlesham Manor – his home at Crowborough, East Sussex. He had died of a heart attack at the age of 71.
In 1902 Doyle was knighted by King Edward VII. The knighthood was not for writing the Sherlock Holmes stories but for his work on a non-fiction pamphlet regarding the Boer War.