Arthur Conan Doyle made his reputation as a novelist, but far stranger than fiction is the creator of Sherlock Holmes’ tale of the Boer War in South Africa. The then 40-year-old novelist wanted to see the war first hand as a soldier, but the Victorian army balked at having a popular author wielding a pen in its ranks. The army did accept him as a doctor and Doyle was knighted in 1902 for his work with a field hospital in Bloemfontein.
Doyle’s vivid account of the battles is in part thanks to the eye-witness accounts he got from his patients. Doyle has thoroughly mastered the details of the campaign, and presents them in a form that can be easily understood. Furthermore, his descriptions of the various engagements are masterpieces of graphic writing.