Conan Doyle's Wide World

Courtesy of Bloomsbury

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) is perhaps best remembered for creating the intrepid detective Sherlock Holmes. Today, numerous clubs, such as the Baker Street Irregulars, devote themselves to understanding all things Sherlockian. Heavy-hitting collectors such as former Apple chief technology officer Glen Miranker, Dan Posnansky, and antiquarian book dealer Peter Stern scour the globe to complete their archives. Though first editions, association copies, and ephemera may be too rich for the average collector, a recently published biography on Conan Doyle is now well within reach.

In the new book, Conan Doyle's Wide World (Bloombury, $28, 328 pages), Conan Doyle's zest for life and travel is illuminated through his robust compendium of travel writing. Biographer Andrew Lycett (Conan Doyle,The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes, 2007) has gathered the author's prolific descriptions of London, Europe, South America, and Australia and woven a compelling narrative of a man whose journeys infused his prose with excitement and adventure. Whether traveling by hot air balloon over the fields of Hendon, England, or describing a whaling expedition in the Arctic, Conan Doyle's writing brims with wit and humor.

The prodigious Arthur Conan Doyle website provides further proof of the sheer volume of the author's writing, serving as an online archive of his short stories, travel prose, interviews, poems, lectures, and speeches. There's even an interactive map that highlights Conan Doyle's travels across the globe, a fabulous interactive element well worth examining while reading Lycett's biography. 

Conan Doyle's Wide World reveals the crime writer's insatiable curiosity and insight into the human condition and the people, places, and things that so clearly influenced his work, providing a fascinating glimpse of Conan Doyle's work beyond Holmes. And right now when most of us are homebound, this volume is a tantalizing reminder of the great places awaiting exploration.