Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, into a notable Irish-Catholic family. While studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh, he started writing short stories. His first detective story starring Sherlock Holmes—loosely based on his university teacher, Joseph Bell—was A Study in Scarlet, published in 1886. He went on to write a total of 60 stories featuring his famous creation, along with many other fiction and non-fiction works.
Aside from writing, Doyle practiced medicine (eventually specializing in ophthalmology), took an interest in spiritualism and Freemasonry, stood for Parliament twice as a Liberal Unionist, and took an active interest in architecture. Despite his prolific career depicting detective work, he only participated in two real-life cases: the first in 1906 involving George Edalji, a shy British-Indian lawyer found guilty of penning malicious letters and mutilating animals in Great Wryly, England; the second in 1908 involving Oscar Slater, a Jewish man convicted of bludgeoning an 82-year-old woman in Glasgow, Scotland. In both cases, Doyle was able to help overturn the conviction, and both men were set free. He was knighted in 1902.