It has been suggested that these may be

Edinburgh University

Medical Students


Is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in this Photo

Photograph by J Howie Junr  -  Group of 15  -  Possibly Edinburgh University Medical Students

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Paul Argyle, North Devon, England


Enlarge this picture

    Photograph by J Howie Jun  -  Group of 15  -  Possibly Edinburgh University Medical Students 



Edinburgh University Medical Students


Thank you to Paul Argyle, North Devon, England, who wrote, asking about this photograph.

Paul wrote:

The Photographer

"This a photograph belongs to my Father.  He was and remains  a book dealer and a keen collector of postcards and early photographs. The name of J. Howie Junior....spelt Junr... and 60 Princes Street Edinburgh are visible in the bottom left and right hand corners.

Father dates the photograph to Circa 1870-1880.  Regrettably there are no identifying marks on the photo or board to help to date the photo. *

Medical Students?

"Father believes that the group of men pictured  are Students studying at the University's Medical School. He bases this theory on the fact that there are only 15 men in it (which is perhaps consistent with the number in study/lecture groups of the time) there are two men of different ethnicity (nationality) suggesting that they were either selected or invited to enroll at the world renowned Medical College because they might have represented the 'cream' of their countries' potential doctors, and that the man on the right seated at the table reading a book is possibly the group's Professor and/or mentor."

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?

"At the moment this is just a theory/opinion, but my father, (with his encyclopeadic historical, literary and photographic knowledge) maintains that the man standing in the back row third from the right with his hand on the shoulder of the man seated in front of him OR the  tallest man standing in the back row fifth from the right is the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when he was a young man also studying medicine at the University.

Although I was initially sceptical about his visual identification of Conan Doyle, the research I've done to date indicates that there are some striking  similarities of these two men with images of Conan Doyle that are available on various internet websites dedicated to him.

Other Collections

 Conan Doyle has no living descendants, and the authority on him, Lancelyn Green is now also deceased.

However, I've established that Lancelyn Green collection of Conan Doyle memorabilia, including photographs, is currently being exhibited at Portsmouth City Museum.

Before I consult with the museum, I want to be certain that this is the  work of Howie Junior himself and that he did, on commission, photograph students of the Medical School. **

Paul Argyle, North Devon, England:  November 7, 2009


*   I can confirm that the 'James Howie Junr' name with the '60 Princes Street' address were used on photos from the Howie studio from about 1864 to 1889.

**  I believe that the photographer who originally used the name 'James Howie Junior' died some time before the 1871 census was taken, but the Howie studio continued to use the 'James Howie Junr' name until 1889.  After his death, the photos would have been taken by his son, also named James, or by somebody else working for the Howie studio.

I don't know whether or not the Howie studio was commissioned to take photos of Medical Students at Edinburgh University, but this seem plausible to me that they would have been.

-  Peter Stubbs:  November 17, 2009

Paul added:

Assessment of the Photo

"I remain unconvinced.  However, images of this photo are now with the Assistant Archivist at the Edinburgh University for his observations.

Any shared provenance or photographic historical reference points would be useful and welcome."

Paul Argyle, North Devon, England:  November 17, 2009

Reply to Paul?

If you'd like to comment on this photo, please email me, then I'll pass on your message to Paul.  Thank you.

Peter Stubbs:  November 17, 2009




John Hadden


Thank you to John Hadden, Edinburgh, who wrote:.

Arthur Conan Doyle

Another Photo

"There is a photograph of  Arthur Conan Doyle as a young doctor, for comparison, on this Sherlock Holmes Online web site.

John Hadden, Edinburgh:  November 17, 2009