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The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  261 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Though Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's name is recognized the world over, for decades the man himself has been overshadowed by his better understood creation, Sherlock Holmes, who has become one of literature's most enduring characters. Based on thousands of previously unavailable documents, Andrew Lycett, author of the critically acclaimed biography Dylan Thomas, offers the firs ...more
Hardcover, First Free Press hardcover edition (U.S.), 416 pages
Published December 2007 by Free Press (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Wanda
***2019 The Summer of Sherlock***

Reading a biography of Arthur Conan Doyle seemed like a necessary thing during my Summer of Sherlock. Last summer, I read Andrew Lycett’s bio of Ian Fleming during my Summer of Spies and found that it greatly enhanced my enjoyment of Fleming’s Bond novels. Perhaps I should have tackled this biography earlier in my summer and it might have given me more insight into the man’s writing.

ACD was born in the Victorian era and lived until the British Interwar perio
...more
Jennifer Petkus
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Almost a year after starting it, I’ve finished The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Time of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Please don’t think, however, that the slowness of my reading in any way indicates that I found this biography uninteresting; it’s simply an incredibly comprehensive, well-researched biography that I think will leave you with a very good insight into the creator of Sherlock Holmes. But it is slow reading, especially if you’re reading six or seven or eight other books eq ...more
Kaitron
I think you are going to see some sherlock holmes on my to read list soon...
M
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: duets
Exceptional but exhausting biography. Incredibly detailed and interesting (first half) but also pretty long and repetitive (second half). The most interesting point the author makes is that Doyle originally started off identifying with Holmes, but eventually switches that position to Watson in the end - which is made clear if you read the stories along with the bio.
Michael S. Lavery
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fair biography
Zala
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's good but it jumps from one time to another a lot.
Ollie Higgs
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
A fantastic read from beginning to end.
Mary Ellen
A highly detailed, exquisitely researched biography. I would not be surprised to find that Lycett invented both a time machine and a shrink ray so that he could spend every single day of Conan Doyle's life perched on his shoulder like a tiny biographer angel. Or demon, depending on your view of the book.

The text is very dense with a lot of information crammed into every sentence. This can be fascinating, if you are interested in the period being covered, or tedious, if that particular aspect of
...more
Paul
Dec 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie
For a man as interesting as Doyle was, this book was a drag to get through. It's slow going to begin with, but the inclusion of irrelevant details (biographical info on Doyle's contemporaries that has nothing to do with what the author is discussing, bios of Doyle's great grand parents, Doyle's Cricket record) certainly doesn't help. Pair that with poor transitions & the odd assumptions the author makes of the reader, namely that 1) they know the geography of England, & 2) they have a working kn ...more
Susan
Feb 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, biography
This biography almost contains too much detailed information and quotes from too many relatively unimportant letters for the general reader. It also portrays a man certainly not likeable, an almost protypical Victorian with all the limitations that meant. The contradictions of his character were rather extreme - a medical scientist who created the most rational detective yet who believed in spiritualism and seances; a man who prided himself on his integrity but who carried on an affair while his ...more
Riju Ganguly
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A factual(at times too much), well-researched, sincere, honest, and at times rather dry biography of that brilliant storyteller who had given us so many memorable stories, and yet who is remembered by the vast majority only for the creation of one character and his style. The book is a difficult read not only because of its fact-findings, but often due to its rather admonishing tone that I found to be disconcerting after reading the more sympathetic writings of Daniel Stashower. Nevertheless, as ...more
Naomi
Sep 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
It is rare that I give up entirely on books, but I will make an exception for this book. I am usually a love of non fiction, and I am a lover of Sherlock Holmes, and I have been waiting for a good biography on the man who created the series, but I take great issue with this one. Lycett creates a portrait of Holmes as a bumbling buffoon who just stumbled on the dynamic duo. I don't think that I am being naive when I say that this cannot be accurate; after reading the Sherlock Holmes collection I ...more
Patty
Well, not read, completely. There is a lot of really good stuff here, but it is a very dense book with lots and lots of detail and I just can't seem to concentrate on it. I think I might be in a "no non-fiction" mood lately which doesn't bode well for the books I've got here right now from the public library. Besides this one I have one on Edgar Allan Poe and another on Lee Harvey Oswald. I'll give them all a chance but I really, really just want to read fiction right now.

I'm not rating this be
...more
Julia
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
I am a huge Conan Doyle/Holmes fan so was looking forward to this book. After toiling my way through two thirds of it - I gave up. I don't know how such a fascinating life has been rendered so lifeless. The level of detail, far from being fascinating, was tedious in the extreme and there was no flow to the prose. Conan Doyle would have been appalled and would have wanted a much more dashing and exciting rendition! I hate giving up on a book... but I decided life was too short and I had far more ...more
Emily
May 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies-etc
This is not a quick read, but it is densely packed with interested information about the man and his times. The author does a nice job in fleshing out the man, his foibles, and his idiosyncrasies, although I can't say that I would have enjoyed meeting Conan Doyle in the flesh (although I imagine that I would feel the same about most Victorian men).

Don't miss the afterword, which gives an excellent impression of the lengths the author had to go through to get this book done. The genteel swipes t
...more
Anastasia
Aug 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Although an interesting read it is not for those with limited attention spans. The book is very dense and dry. I usually breeze through books of this length quickly but I had to take it in bit and pieces. It did, however, give an interesting view into Conan Doyle's life. There were many things in this biography that I had not known about the father of my favorite detective. If you have the time and patience it is certainly worth it. I'm glad I finished it.
Kay
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
This book was a big disappointment. Overstuffed with pointless details drawn from family letters and diaries, it fails to convey anything new or interesting about Doyle and is a slow and tedious read. It doesn't give any sense of an overall shape to his life and includes little discussion of his writing (and isn't that why we're interested in him, after all?). Martin Booth's The Doctor and the Detective is a better read and a more satisfying biography.
Jane
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
I never knew there was so much more to Sir A.C.D.than Sherlock. I was fascinated from so many angles: Victorian Royalty and society;Spiritualism; Interaction with so many famous contempories; the book business at the time etc. unlike so many comments on this book, I found the details compelling.
Kathryn
I did not like this book, and in fact quit about half way through. This was too detailed in the people he met than in how he found his ideas or how he wrote his books. I felt it was very boring and would not recommend it to anyone.
Barb
Feb 06, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-finished
I love Sherlock Holmes. I enjoy reading about the fin de siecle and the people who inhabited it. Unfortunately, this book just didn't grab me -- I found the author's style dull and unappealing.
Ashley
Dec 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Simply awesome. As a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, it was amazing to be able to learn the history of the stories and the author. Two thumbs up.
M. Langlinais
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
A comprehensive, if long, look at Conan Doyle's life, including his writings and his interest in spiritualism. Well written, but with some dips and duller parts (such is the nature of a life).
TJ
Sep 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
I really wanted to like this and read it. It was just too detailed and information packed, and not good information. So I gave up on it two hundred pages in it. Wish I could have liked it better.
Jackie
Jan 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
Interesting but also tedious. I read every word. And enjoyed it well-enough. But nothing over the top.
Jeffrey Marks
Mar 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Great details on the man. I think the amount of details stemmed from the number of new sources permitted to be quoted for this new biography. Definitely a man of contradictions.
cameron
rated it it was amazing
Dec 25, 2014
Ashraf Mahmoud
rated it really liked it
Apr 06, 2018
Molly
rated it liked it
May 01, 2012
April Jane
rated it it was amazing
Dec 29, 2018
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