London, Paris & Melbourne: Cassell & Company, Limited, 1892. 8vo. 256 pp., including 8 pages publisher’s advertisements. FIRST EDITION. Original blue cloth, very minor wear to head and foot of spine; interior excellent. Small bookseller’s label on front paste-down. Item #12117
First edition, printed in an initial run of 2001 copies. The tale of a modern alchemist who becomes a billionaire and corrupts the community he wants to help. Written while Doyle was on a sojourn in Vienna, in the same year that The adventures of Sherlock Holmes was first published.
The creator of the most famous detective in literature, Doyle (1859-1930) produced his first story at the age of six. After completing his medical studies at Edinburgh University, Doyle practiced medicine as an eye specialist in Hampshire for six years until he became a full-time writer. As a medical student, Doyle had several future writers as his colleagues, including James Barrie and Robert Louis Stevenson. However, he was most influenced by his professor, Dr. Joseph Bell, whose skills of observation, logic, deduction and diagnosis were later infused into the persona of Sherlock Holmes. After the death of his son, Doyle became interested in occultism, and fairies, having spent more than a million dollars supporting the existence of “little people.” He caused an international sensation when he published a favorable account of the “fairy photographs,” which purported to have captured fairies dancing in the air. The photograph was later proven to be a fake. Doyle became the president of several important spiritualist organizations, and later opened the Psychic Bookshop in London. He was knighted in 1902.