Within that exclusive group of literary characters who have survived through the centuries--from Hamlet to Huckleberry Finn--few can rival the cultural impact of Sherlock Holmes. Since his first public appearance 20 years ago, the gentleman with the curved pipe and a taste for cocaine, the master of deductive reasoning and elaborate disguise, has left his mark everywhere--in crime literature, film and television, cartoons and comic books.

At Holmes' side, of course, was his trusted friend Dr. Watson. Looming even larger, however, was another doctor, one whose medical practice was so slow it allowed him plenty of time to pursue his literary ambition. His name: Arthur Conan Doyle. As the creator of these fictional icons, Conan Doyle has himself become something of a cult figure, the object of countless critical studies, biographies and fan clubs.

Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859, in a respectable middle-class Catholic family. Still, it was far from an easy life. There was never enough money; they moved frequently in search of lower rents; and his father, a civil servant and illustrator was an alcoholic who had to be institutionalized. Yet the early letters he wrote to his mother are surprisingly optimistic, concerned mainly with food, clothes, allowances and schoolwork. At 14 came his first unforgettable visit to London, including Madame Tussaud's, where he was "delighted with the room of Horrors, and the images of the murderers."

A superb student, Conan Doyle went on to medical school, where he was attracted by Dr. Joseph Bell, a professor with an uncanny ability to diagnose patients even before they opened their mouths. For a time he worked as Bell's outpatient clerk and would watch, amazed, at how the location of a callus could reveal a man's profession, or how a quick look at a skin rash told Bell that the patient had once lived in Bermuda. In 1886, Conan Doyle outlined his first novel, A Study in Scarlet, which he described as "a simple tale of mystery to make a little extra money." Its main character, initially called Sherringford Hope and later called Sherlock Holmes, was based largely on Bell. But Holmes' first appearance went almost unnoticed, and the struggling doctor devoted nearly all of his spare time to writing long historical novels in the style of Sir Walter Scott—novels that he was convinced would make his reputation. It wasn't to be. In 1888, Holmes reappeared in A Scandal in Bohemia, a short story in Strand Magazine. And this time, its hero took an immediate hit and Conan Doyle's life would never be the same.

1. The typical features of Sherlock Holmes were all EXCEPT
  A. rational.
  B. sociable. 
  C. intelligent. 
  D. cunning.

2. Which of the following is NOT true about Conan Doyle and his family?
  A. He came from a middle-class family. 
  B. They led a hard life in Edinburgh.
  C. His father was addicted to drinking. 
  D. His mother had received little education.

3. How did Conan Doyle feel about his first visit to London?
  A. It was horrible. 
  B. It was pleasant.
  C. It was awful. 
  D. It was memorable.

4. We can infer from the last paragraph that
  A. the more calluses a person has, the more professional he would be.
  B. writers often base their writing on personal experiences.
  C. Conan Doyle has gone through a period of hardship on his way to success.
  D. inspiration was very important for a person to create something.

5. Conan Doyle's short story "A Scandai in Bohemia" has proved to be __ at last.
  A. successful 
  B. powerful 
  C. ridiculous 
  D. frustrating