Arthur Conan Doyle, though certainly best known for his detective stories, was a highly prolific writer. The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia, a website that hosts the author’s works, lists more than 300 short stories and novels, as well as more than 1,200 nonfiction essays and articles. Many of these were about spiritualism.
“Killed Holmes,” Conan Doyle wrote in his diary in 1893 (via the BBC). After years of writing the famous character, Conan Doyle had had enough of crime stories, and his rationalist protagonist. In “The Final Problem,” Sherlock Holmes was killed while on a case. Fans, who some say wore black mourning bands, canceled their subscriptions to the magazine that published the Holmes stories and wrote furious letters to Conan Doyle. In 1901, Conan Doyle caved to the pressure, and brought the consulting detective back from his fictional grave.
Despite the fervour his work stirred up in readers, Conan Doyle stated that he would be happy to give up his literary career if in return more people would believe in spiritualism. Even after Holmes was brought back, Conan Doyle devoted as much energy as possible to spreading his beliefs, calling his crusade, “the most important thing in the world” (via the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate). In 1926, Doyle published a book called “The History of Spiritualism,” in which he described the movement as “the most important in the history of the world since the Christ episode.”