14 Weird Facts About Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Guy Who Created Sherlock Holmes

You probably know Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the famous author who created the beloved character Sherlock Holmes. But really, who was Arthur Conan Doyle? Yes, he created one of the most widely recognizable characters in the world (and may have even been responsible for the first ever fandom), but his talents and interests didn't just lie in writing.

At different points in his life he was a doctor, an aspiring politician, and a big fan of Tinker Bell. Even though he created one of the most rational fictional characters of all time, later in life the author became interested in the occult, regularly holding séances with family and friends. There are so many interesting facts about Arthur Conan Doyle that it's easy to see how he's every bit as legendary as the famous consulting detective. 

This Arthur Conan Doyle trivia will leave you sure that the author was as badass as the character he created. Now, venture forth – the game is afoot!

  • He Spoke With Spirits
    Photo: Ada Deane / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    He Spoke With Spirits

    Doyle was a big believer of Spiritualism (the belief that the living can communicate with the dead), so much so that he wrote several books and articles on the topic and even went on a tour to promote his beliefs.

    He also claimed to have spoken with the spirits of well-known men, such as Joseph Conrad, Cecil Rhodes, and Earl Haig. Spiritualism was so important to him that he even wished to be remembered for his work communing with spirits rather than his literary accomplishments. Basically, he was a late-19th century version of Alan Moore. 

  • He Popularized Skiing

    While living in Switzerland, Doyle took up skiing (still a pretty obscure sport in the 19th century). He brought attention to the sport after publishing a feature article about it in Strand Magazine, the publication in which the Sherlock Holmes stories appeared.

    He wrote, “You have to shuffle along the level, to zigzag, or move crab fashion, up the hills, to slide down without losing your balance, and above all to turn with facility.” With that ringing endorsement, people in England went crazy for the snow sport. 

  • He Went Out Like A Classy Boss
    Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-10068 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

    He Went Out Like A Classy Boss

    Doyle’s death was so dramatic, it might as well have been written in a Sherlock Holmes story. He had been struggling with heart problems for a while, and he died from a heart attack at the age of 71.

    He was in his garden and reportedly collapsed while holding a flower in one hand and clutching his heart with the other. His wife was with him at the time, and his last words were directed to her. Flower still in hand, he told her, “You are wonderful.” If that doesn't make you choke up a little, you should seek medical attention. 

  • He Was Frenemies With Harry Houdini
    Photo: Harry Houdini / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    He Was Frenemies With Harry Houdini

    The two men met in 1920 and became fast friends. Later, the two had a falling out when Doyle and his family hosted a séance to contact Houdini’s mother. After his mother’s passing, Houdini attempted to contact his mother through mediums, but quickly realized that the people conducting these séances were frauds. Like a good friend, Houdini partook in in one more séance with Doyle, even though he had his doubts.

    The session was led by Doyle’s daughter, who was supposedly a gifted medium. She contacted Houdini’s mother and produced fifteen pages of notes from the illusionist’s mother. Unfortunately, the fifteen pages were written in English, a language Houdini’s mother did not know.

    Also, his mother made no mention of the fact that the séance took pace on her birthday. Houdini shared shared his doubts with Doyle, but the author held fast to his belief that they had contacted the women. Their friendship never recovered.