This chapter introduces the notion of “practice”. The young Conan Doyle was a medical doctor in general practice – his practice was a place of activity, a repertoire of knowledge and skills, a set of social relations, a professional reputation, and a body of work. His second career, as a writer, can be analysed in similar terms as a “practice”. The second part of this chapter surveys the profession of authorship around the year 1890 when Conan Doyle gave up medicine for writing – its practitioners and debates, book and magazine and journalistic publications, the expanding reading public, critical and popular tastes, and changing ideas about the role of an author or man of letters in society.
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