Arthur Ignatius went to medical school in England in the 1880’s, graduating in 1881.  For his first position out of college he accepted a post as the ship doctor on a voyage bound for South Africa during the first Boer war.  When he finished this engagement, he started a practice in Plymouth, England in 1882 with a friend from medical school.  After the two had a falling out, Arthur began his own practice, but business was very slow.  To fill his time and add a little cash flow, he reverted to an old hobby; writing.


Arthur thought that he might be able to increase his practice by specialization, so in 1890 he went to Vienna to study diseases and surgery of the eye.  Returning to London, he now had a new practice as an ophthalmologist.  Business however was slower than ever.  Days would go by without a single patient coming through the doors, so Arthur spent even more time writing.  He developed a character based on one of his favorite and most influential college professors, Joseph Bell.  This character really caught on with the populace of England, then the entire world.


We may never know if Arthur was a good ophthalmologist, because his practice never really got off the ground.  But we do know that Arthur was a great writer, because the character he created based on his college science professor became fiction’s first scientific detective, Sherlock Holmes.  And we remember Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle not as the failed ophthalmologist, but as the hugely successful writer.