Archives for posts with tag: Arthur Conan Doyle

It’s Friday, and guest author day. If you remember, a couple of weeks ago when writing about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, there was a reference to Robert Louis Stevenson and I took note I should invite him too. And here he is.

As fascinating as his writing is, the man is no less interesting. I will not try and give you a detailed account of his life (although I include links to a number of well-informed sites) but just a few notes. And of course, I’ll give you links to some of his works, now free to download (although I would be surprised if you haven’t read or have copies of many of them).

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I liked his description of himself in a letter to J.M. Barrie (yes, he keeps appearing and is on the list too):

“Exceedingly lean, dark, rather ruddy-black eyes (drawing-book eyes, Amanuensis) crow’s footed, beginning to be grizzled, general appearance of a blasted boy or blighted youth or to borrow Carlyle on De Quincey ‘child that has been in hell'” (2/3 April 1893)

Robert Lewis (later Louis) Balfour Stevenson was born in Edinburgh on 13th November 1850. His father was an engineer (he built many of the deep-sea lighthouses in Scotland). His mother came from a family of church ministers and lawyers.

At 17 he enrolled at EdinburghUniversity, initially to study engineering but he abandoned this and as a compromise he studied law, completing his studies in 1875, although he never worked as a lawyer as he already knew he wanted to be a writer. During summer holidays he travelled to France to be with other young artists. He had essays and travel books published (An Inland Voyage and Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes).

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He met his future wife in September 1876 at Grez (south-east of Paris). He was 25, she was 36 and independent American woman, separated from her husband and with two children. Two years later she went back to California and he followed in August 1879. This was the subject of his next work: The Amateur Emigrant (that some consider one of his best works). After Fanny obtained the divorce they married in 1880.

Stevenson initiated the British tradition of short story writing (“A Lodging for the Night” 1877, was later collected with 3 others in a book New Arabian Nights in 1882). He continued to write short stories all his life and they were collected in some volumes: The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables and Island Nights’ Entertainments.

In 1881 on a rainy summer day he created a map of an imaginary Treasure Island with his stepson. From this he wrote the novel that was published in 1883 and marked the beginning of his popularity. He wrote other works that would fit in within the category of children’s stories: A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885), The Black Arrow (1883), Kidnapped (1886 the same year when he wrote Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) and its continuation Catriona (1893).

He wrote a number of books that would fit in within the description of novels and romances: Prince Otto (1885), The Master of Ballantree (set in historical Scotland, exploring the issue of doubles, here as two brothers, considered by Calvino and Brecht the best of his works), Weir of Hermiston that he was working on when he died (published incomplete and posthumously in 1896).

In 1888 he decided to sail the South Seas with his family, stopping here and there and collecting material for a work on the South Seas. In 1889 they stopped in the SamoanIslands (port of Apia) and decided to build a house there. He wrote essays (In the South Seas) and stories set there (The Wrecker, 1892, and The Ebb-Tide, 1894).

220px-Stevenson's_home_at_Vailima

He died in December 1894 and was buried near his house on Samoa.

He wrote nearly everything apart from the typical long Victorian novel: plays, essays, poems, biography, romances, short stories… He also wrote a number of musical compositions. He was careful with his style but at the same time interested in popular genres. Due in part to that popularity he fell in disregard with critics and was mostly ignored by Modernists and later scholars. Critical interest has increased somewhat but is still very modest compared to other writers of the period. Maybe it’s true that you can be popular or be a critical success, but be both is really difficult. I suspect given a choice, like most of us, he’d rather have people read him than people write about him. He is still the 26th most translated author in the world. 

Links:

Biography and information:

Robert Louis Stevenson website. Fabulous resource with detailed information, photographs…:

http://www.robert-louis-stevenson.org/

Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Louis_Stevenson

In Biography.com:
http://www.biography.com/people/robert-louis-stevenson-9494571

The Literature Network:

http://www.online-literature.com/stevenson/

Author page in Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/854076.Robert_Louis_Stevenson

Edinburgh celebrates Robert Louis Stevenson with a series of events.

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/life-works-robert-louis-stevenson-2678253

Books and other writings:

Collection of poems free online:

http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/stevenson/stevenson_ind.html

The Black Arrow. A Tale of the Two Roses:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004TSA2LG/

Merry Men

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004UJKLCO/

Weir of Hermiston

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004UJK69W/

Island Nights’ Entertainment

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004UJKT12/

Catriona

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004UJ849G/

Essays

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008403R76/

Treasure Island is not available free in Amazon but here is the link in Project Gutenberg in a variety of formats:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/120

Also in project Gutenberg, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/43

Kidnapped (also in Project Gutenber):

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/421

Here is the link to the author in Project Gutenberg, where you can check other works and versions (including audios):

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/35

Movie and TV versions (I recently saw a musical version of Jekyll and Hyde so…)

In IMDB he is given writing credits for 245 movies and TV series…

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0829044/

Thank you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, don’t forget to like, comment, share and of course, CLICK! It’s FREE!

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As you know Friday is usually the day to bring you a guest author. Whilst writing a post on Elizabeth Gaskell (and talking about BBC TV series) Sherlock Holmes came to mind, and I thought, yes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. (I won’t enter into the debate of Conan Doyle being a composite name or Doyle alone being the surname, and Conan a middle name, that seems to be the generalised view, but I think it sounds good nonetheless). I should have thought about him before, as we share professions (he was a doctor, and evidently a writer) but…it’s never too late.

There are very thorough biographies, but I won’t go into a lot of detail and I’ll leave you links so you can expand at your leisure.

Conan_doyle

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was born in Edinburgh of Irish descent. Due to his father’s problems with alcohol his childhood was quite disrupted and the family separated and were spread around Edinburgh. Thanks to wealthy relatives he was educated at several Jesuit schools including in Austria. He later studied Medicine in Edinburgh, training in a variety of locations including Birmingham and Sheffield (I also work in Sheffield!). While he was studying he started writing and published some of his work in magazines. He also wrote articles for the BMJ (British Medical Journal).

When he completed medical school and was fully qualified he worked as a doctor in a Greenland whaler and later worked as ship surgeon on the SS Mayumba (travelling to West coast of Africa). He completed his Doctorate in 1885.

He initially settled as a partner with another doctor in Plymouth but the partnership didn’t work out and with little money he moved to Portsmouth (where he also played football) and settled as General Practitioner. The business was very slow and he started writing to pass the time. He wrote short stories, some inspired by his time at sea, including a version of the mystery of the Marie Celeste that he would popularise.

He had some difficulty publishing his work and the first story to be published in 1886 was A Study in Scarlet where Sherlock Holmes and Watson appear for the first time (he sold rights for £25). It got good reviews and proved popular and other works with the same characters were later commissioned. It seems that several people who knew his university professor, Joseph Bell, recognised many of his characteristics in Sherlock Holmes (including Sir Robert Louis Stevenson…I guess I should invite him too).

He published The Sign of the Four a continuation of the story in 1890, but feeling exploited by the publishing company he left them and started writing for others including the Strand magazine.

Sherlock Holmes was not his only subject and amongst other things he collaborated with J.M. Barrie on a libretto (and somebody else for the list…).

Apart from the aforementioned football he was also a keen cricketer and golfer.

Sir_Arthur_Conan_Doyle_and_family

He married twice (his first wife died of Tuberculosis in 1906), and had 2 children from his first marriage and three from his second marriage, 2 daughters and 3 sons.

In 1890 he studied Ophthalmology in Vienna and settled to practice in London. He again said he did not have many clients and dedicated himself to writing.

English: Sherlock and Moriarty. From the Sherl...

English: Sherlock and Moriarty. From the Sherlock Holmes story ‘The Final Problem’ by Sidney Paget. http://camdenhouse.ignisart.com/canon/fina.htm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He told his mother in 1891 that he was thinking of killing Sherlock Holmes and she told him not to. He did in 1893 (or so it seemed). Due to public outrage he brought him back in the Hound of the Baskervilles in 1901 (although it was set before the Moriarty and Sherlock plunge into ReichenbachFalls in The Final Problem). In 1903 in The Adventure of the Empty House he explained how only Moriarty had fallen, but Holmes had faked his own death to fool his enemies. Sherlock appeared in 56 short stories and 4 novels by Doyle and in many stories by others (not to mention the many movie and TV adaptations).

He was interested in politics, wrote in defence of the UK actions in the Boer War in South Africa, (and he believed those writings got him the Knighthood). He also became a supporter of the Congo Free State campaign and wrote about it. (Some characters in The Lost World were inspired by his associates in the original campaign). He also stood for Parliament twice as a Liberal Unionist, but didn’t get elected.

Doyle also took an interest in miscarriages of justice and was involved in two successful appeals against convictions, in 1906 the case of George Edalji (beautifully narrated in the novel by Julian Barnes Arthur and George, 2005, that I wholeheartedly recommend) and in 1909 Oscar Slater. It is in part because of his efforts that the Court of Appeal was established in 1907.

Cottingley_Fairies_1

Following a number of tragic occurrences (death of his wife, of one of his sons in WWI, of his brother, two brothers-in-law and two nephews), he became quite depressed and found refuge in Spiritualism. He was a member of the Ghost Club were they sought to prove evidence of paranormal phenomena, and he was convinced that the photographs of the Cottingley fairies were true. He was friends with Harry Houdini who also believed in Spiritualism but spent much of his time proving many mediums were frauds.

He died of a heart attack on the 7th July 1930 in Crowborough, where he had lived for 23 years. Initially buried in a rose garden as he did not consider himself Christian he was reburied with his wife in 1940 in Minstead churchyard in the New Forest, Hampshire.

 

Links:

Biography:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Conan_Doyle

Official website for SirArthurConanDoyleLiteraryState (it offers an specially written biography):

http://www.sherlockholmesonline.org/

BBC History:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/conan_sir_arthur_doyle.shtml

Biography.com:

http://www.biography.com/people/arthur-conan-doyle-9278600

http://sirconandoyle.com/

Spartacus educational:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jconan.htm

Filmograhy:

IMDB:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0236279/

(I’ve already confessed how much I love the new modernised version of Sherlock Holmes from the BBC…)

Strand magazine

Free links to books:

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0083Z12V0/

The Lost World

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004UJDLJE/

The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082XIATK/

The Adventure of the Dying Detective

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082XID88/

Tales of Terror and Mystery

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082Z3DYA/

His Last Bow

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082XIF5Y/

Sir Nigel

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0083Z9ZEQ/

The Great Boer War

http://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Boer-War-ebook/dp/B00846R62C/

The Sign of the Four

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082XO4JU/

The Valley of Fear

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082RVDYU/

There are many other works at very low prices and many stories on line also.

Thank you for reading, and as always, if you have enjoyed it, please, like, comment, share, and CLICK! It’s FREE!

Today, as most Fridays, I bring you a guest author. It is time for another classic, a female Victorian writer who became quite popular during her life time and recently, thanks to TV adaptations, has regained many followers. Elizabeth Gaskell.

Cover of "Cranford (Nonsuch Classics)"

Cover of Cranford (Nonsuch Classics)

There is plenty of information about her and I leave you some links to both her life and works, to free versions of her novels and stories, and also some links to adaptations of her work to TV. I love Cranford that I think is one of these gems that the BBC can produce every so often (many are period pieces, but not all, and I also love their adaptation/modernisation of Sherlock Holmes…that makes me think, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle should be on my list of guest for the future…). If you haven’t watched it and can get hold of it…do. And let me know what you think.

Before I’ll share a brief biographical note with you but do check the links for much more detailed information.

gaskell

Biography:

Elizabeth Stevenson was born in London on 29 September 1810, the daughter of a Unitarian minister. Her mother died when she was only 13 months old and her father sent her to live with her aunt, Hannah, who lived in Knutsford in Cheshire. Her father remarried but she spent little time with him and his new family. Her brother, who joined the Merchant Navy, died when she was 18 and her father died shortly after.

She spent some time in Newcastle but would usually go back to Knutsford (that was her inspiration for Cranford). In 1832, she married William Gaskell, also a Unitarian minister, and they settled in the industrial city of Manchester. She helped her husband with his welfare work and took special interest in helping the poor and destitute in the rapidly developing industrial city.

wgaskell                                                                                                    William Gaskell, her husband

Her first child, a girl, was a still born, and following the birth of her second child, marked by her loss, she started keeping a diary of the development of her children. She had a son William, but he died of scarlet fever. She was very affected by it, and her husband suggested that she could take up writing a full-length novel to try and distract herself. Her first novel, ‘Mary Barton’, was published anonymously in 1848. It was an immediate success, winning the praise of Charles Dickens and Thomas Carlyle. It discussed the life of the poor in Manchester and it showed a good eye for detail and local customs and dialogue. It was the first of her ‘industrial’ works.

Dickens invited her to contribute to his magazine, ‘Household Words’, where her next major work, ‘Cranford’, appeared in 1853, in installments. Although he published a number of her works, including short stories and ‘North and South’ (published in 1854), they had major disagreements, particularly due to the length of her novels, and he unwillingness to follow his editorial advice. I’ve read in several of her biographies that he said if he had been her husband he would have beaten her up. Gaskell’s work brought her many friends, including the novelist Charlotte Brontë who visited her often. When Charlotte died in 1855, her father, Patrick Brontë, asked Gaskell to write her biography. The ‘Life of Charlotte Brontë’ (1857)  made her even more popular although some critics queried the amount of personal detail included.

She spent time in the South, traveled abroad with her daughters, and had just bought a new house when she had a massive heart attack in October 1865, dying on 12 November 1865, leaving her longest work, ‘Wives and Daughters’ incomplete.

Home to Elizabeth Gaskell, novelist and biogra...

Home to Elizabeth Gaskell, novelist and biographer, this dilapidated building has fortunately been bought by the Manchester Historic Buildings Trust. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her house in Manchester is now a Museum, the street in Knutsford where she lived has been renamed in her honour, and Manchester University has an Elizabeth Gaskell library.

General Links:

Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Gaskell

BBC history site:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/gaskell_elizabeth.shtml

The Gaskell Society:

http://www.gaskellsociety.co.uk/

From the same site a detailed account of her life and works:

http://www.gaskellsociety.co.uk/life.html

An article of the Daily Mail:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-496640/The-amazing-secret-life-Cranford-creator-Elizabeth-Gaskell.html

Spartacus Educational:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jgaskell.htm

 

FREE links to her work:

Cranford:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0083ZEYHO/

Wives and daughters:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0084ADOVK/

Ruth:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082XU52A/

Mary Barton:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004UJ0ZS4/

The Grey Woman and Other Tales:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0083ZN9NY/

Sylvia’s Lovers:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00849TP9G/

Cousin Phillis:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082XUCLO/

My Lady Ludlow:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082XMRBC/

And more…

 

And links to TV versions of her work (BBC):

Cranford (I truly love this series! It’s a must!)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000Z1TYT2/

Return to Cranford (Yes, I also love this one).

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002KSA4I8/

North and South:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0007N1BBC/

Wives and Daughters:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00005KB4H/

Her page in imdb with information on other TV series (earlier versions):

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0309121/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Thank you for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed, and if you have, remember to like, share, comment, and CLICK! It’s FREE!

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