Arthur Conan Doyle: Beyond Baker Street

By Janet B. Pascal | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
THE LIFE AND DEATH
OF SHERLOCK
HOLMES

After the long labor of The White Company, Conan Doyle was restless. His comfortably respectable provincial life was beginning to feel somewhat confining. When he heard that the German doctor Robert Koch was demonstrating what he called a sure cure for tuberculosis (perhaps the most deadly disease of Conan Doyle's time) it stirred his latent desire for escape: [A great urge came upon me suddenly that I should go to Berlin and see him do so. I could give no clear reason for this, but it was an irresistible impulse.] Within a few hours he had packed his bag and left. As it turned out, it was impossible to get tickets to the demonstration at this late date, and Conan Doyle had to rely on the notes of a kindly American. He concluded, correctly, that [the whole thing was experimental and premature,] and returned to Portsmouth. The entire trip took two days and accomplished nothing, but, said Conan Doyle, [I had spread my wings and had felt something of the powers within me.]

On the train to Berlin, Conan Doyle became friendly with a successful London skin specialist, who had also started out as a provincial doctor. He convinced Conan Doyle

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