In conjunction with its production of “Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” Peninsula Players Theatre will host Agatha Christie scholar Dr. Christopher Chan on Friday, September 15, at 5:30 p.m. in the theater. Chan will discuss the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his world-famous characters, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and the mystique of these two fictional detectives. “Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” performs at Peninsula Players Theatre through October 15 and is sponsored by Door County Medical Center, Barbara & Richard Board and Margaret & Dale West. Admission to the pre-show seminar is free, and tickets to the 7:00 p.m. performance are available.
Doyle was a native to Edinburgh, Scotland, a trained physician, active sportsman, adventurer and author. He began his study of medicine at age 17 at Edinburgh University where he earned his Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery. Known as a storyteller to classmates, he sold his first story at age 20 to the Edinburgh Journal. In 1880, on a whim, he paused his studies to go to the Arctic for six months on a whaling ship, serving as the ship’s physician. Doyle earned his full M.D. degree in 1885, but his spirit for adventure never left him. During his lifetime, he skied the Swiss Alps, went aloft in hot-air balloons and early airplanes, drove early automobiles and tended to wounded soldiers in West Africa.
While waiting for his own practice to take off in Portsmouth in 1882, he continued writing stories in earnest. “A Study in Scarlet” and “The Sign of the Four” were his first Sherlock Holmes novels, published between 1887 and 1890. The novels themselves were not an overnight success. In 1890, he decided to specialize in ophthalmology and moved to Vienna and Paris for advanced study. In 1891, he opened a new practice in London and picked up writing to fill his “all too abundant free time.”
In 1891, a new publication entitled The Strand Magazine began to publish the first Sherlock Holmes short stories. Suddenly, Doyle became one of the highest-paid, best-known writers in the world and Holmes and Watson were transatlantic sensations. In all, Doyle would write four novels and 56 short stories about the criminalists. He also explored science fiction with Professor Challenger of The Lost World and historical fiction with the humorous adventures of Brigadier Gerard. In 1900, Doyle spent six months in South Africa as a volunteer field army surgeon. After the Boer War exposed obsolete practices, he advocated for military reforms and began to call attention to Germany’s dangerous ambitions. His stirring defense of the British cause in this conflict led to his knighthood.
Chan is the author of “Sherlock’s Secretary” and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Lawrence University, earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree from UW-Milwaukee and a Ph.D. in U.S. History from Marquette University. He teaches online graduate history classes and works as an International Goodwill Ambassador for the official Agatha Christie website, www.agathachristie.com, of which he is also an editor. Chan writes for the magazine Gilbert at chesterton.org, which specializes in book and television reviews, in addition to writing historical and critical essays on Agatha Christie’s work.
Peninsula Players Theatre is committed to providing educational programming for the community. The Players has a long history of educational initiatives, including an internship program that dates back to the founding days of the theater in the 1930s. The theater is also hosting a post-show discussion on Saturday, September 16. Contact the Box Office at 920-868-3287 or visit www.peninsulaplayers.com to purchase tickets.