Charles Altamount Doyle

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Charles Altamount Doyle

Also Known As: "Altimont"
Birthdate: (61)
Birthplace: St Faith, West Newton, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom
Death: October 10, 1893 (61)
Lunatic Asylum, Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of John "H.B." Doyle and Marianna Doyle
Husband of Mary Josephine Elizabeth Doyle
Father of Annette Mary Frances Conan "Nan" Doyle; Katherine Amelia Angela Doyle; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Mary Helena Monica Henrietta Doyle; Caroline Mary Burton "Lottie" Oldham and 4 others
Brother of Sister Ignatius Alyosius; James William William Edmund Doyle; Richard Doyle; Henry Edward Doyle, RHA, CB; Francis Doyle and 2 others
Half brother of Michael Doyle; Anne Doyle; Mary Doyle and Honoria Moolick

Occupation: civil service
Managed by: Erica Howton
Last Updated:

About Charles Altamount Doyle

Charles Altamont Doyle

son of John Doyle m Mary Foley

Issue Arthur Conan-Doyle BB Hill Brigadier-General Innes Doyle

Chalres Altamont Doyle was an artist born of an artistic family. His father John Doyle being the famous political cartoonist "HB" and his brother Richard "Dicky" Doyle an illustrator of "Punch" Magazine and later director of the National Gallery in Ireland.

From The Life and Art of Charles Doyle:

Although Charles exhibited a great deal of artistic talent, he was not able to earn a living from his artwork. At the age of 17, he moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, and started working in the Scottish Office of Works as an architectural draftsman. His most famous accomplishment was designing the Fountain at Holyrood Palace. Doyle would hold a position in the Scottish government for 30 years, supplementing his income by illustrating books and magazine articles.

In 1855, Charles married Mary Foley whose mother owned the boarding house where Charles was living. Together, Charles and Mary would raise seven children together. Their eldest son, Arthur Conan Doyle, would grow up to become a well-known author and creator of the famous literary detective, Sherlock Holmes.

It would seem as if Charles Doyle had the perfect life: a reliable job, a budding artistic career, and a large loving family. However, Charles had a weakness--riddled with feelings of inadequacy, and low self-esteem, Charles found solace in alcohol. Over time, he became so addicted to drink that his health began to decline. He started to suffer from both physical and mental exhaustion which resulted in the loss of his job at the Scottish Office of Works in June of 1876. Over the next several years, his condition deteriorated rapidly into acute delirium tremens. In addition to the delusions and hallucinations usually associated with this condition, Charles also suffered from epilepsy and bouts of depression. After years of failed rehabilitation, he was committed to a mental institution in 1881. He would spend the next twelve years in asylums for the mentally ill.

Ironically, it was during his time in institutions such as the Montrose Royal Lunatic Asylum, that Charles created some of his best artwork. He kept several sketchbooks which he filled with watercolor drawings and pen-and-ink sketches. Most of this artwork featured elves, faerie folk, and other fantastical themes. In addition, the illustrations also featured clever wordplay, and visual puns. Doyle created this artwork to prove his sanity, sending the drawings to his family as proof of his wrongful confinement. In spite of his efforts, Doyle would remain in an asylum for the rest of his life. On the morning of October 10, 1893 Charles Altamont Doyle suffered from a severe epileptic fit which proved too powerful for his weakened heart. After a life long struggle with alcohol, Charles Altamont Doyle finally found peace. He was buried in a graveyard in Dumfries, Scotland.

In 1924 Doyle's oldest son, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, held an exhibit of his father's works. The exhibit attracted the praise of numerous critics. Perhaps the greatest compliment was delivered by author George Bernard Shaw. He noted that Charles Doyle's artwork was so good that it deserved its own special room in a national museum.

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Charles Altamount Doyle's Timeline

March 25, 1832
West Newton, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom
July 22, 1856
Age 24
Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
April 22, 1858
Age 26
Midlothian, Scotland, United Kingdom
May 22, 1859
Age 27
Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh, Scotland
May 4, 1861
Age 29
Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
February 15, 1866
Age 33
South Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, United Kingdom
March 4, 1868
Age 35
Midlothian, Scotland, United Kingdom
March 31, 1873
Age 41
Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, United Kingdom
March 16, 1875
Age 42
Midlothian, Scotland, United Kingdom