About this artwork

Joseph Bell was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, Sherlock Holmes. Educated at Edinburgh Academy, Bell, aged sixteen, enrolled at the University of Edinburgh to study medicine. Graduating in 1859 he went on to have a successful career, becoming senior surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, followed by the first surgeon to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh. Bell campaigned for women to be admitted to medical school and also founded, and was vice-president of, the Queen Victoria Jubilee Institute of Nurses. Arthur Conan Doyle was a medical student at the University of Edinburgh from 1876-81 and had been impressed by Bell’s appearance: “a tall, stately, kindly man, keen eyes and aquiline features contributing to his air of intent investigation.”

Updated before 2020

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