I’ve been slowly, slowly plowing my way through The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And although I have nothing to compare this to, not having read any other full biographies of Doyle, my guess is that this is a definitive work of the genius who created Holmes.
Doyle’s life, certainly in comparison to Jane Austen’s, is an open and well-documented book. So many of Doyle’s letters survive and we have his journals (although the loss of one journal plays an important part of The Sherlockian) and his vast output to build up a complete picture. Author Andrew Lycett, I think, does a very good job of suggesting how Doyle made the decisions that led to his career as an author without making it seem like psychobabble guesswork.
Unfortunately the end result is somewhat boring because it is so complete, 557 pages in my hardbound copy. But I suspect it will be an invaluable resource.