The cover of this book captures the feeling that Arthur had - as if the shadow of his creation, Sherlock, was literally hanging over him and everything he did. It must be the same feeling actors have when they play a very popular role and then are typecast into similar parts over and over. We know now that other authors worry about one character or series coloring how everyone will respond to their work; even J.K. Rowling used a pseudonym when she wanted to write something other than Harry Potter. But back when the Sherlock Holmes stories were first wowing readers, it wasn't as common a problem.
The narrative explains Arthur's childhood influences, his education, and the many adventures he had. Young readers may not know about his trips on board ships heading to the Arctic Ocean and to Africa. Or that he was a struggling young doctor when he invented his famous character. Many will probably laugh at the idea of fans writing letters to Sherlock because they believed he was real. Orson Welles once referred to Holmes as "the world's most famous man who never was!"
The illustrations capture scenes of Arthur looking through a barrel of bargain books outside a shop (trying to find what he could afford as a student on a budget), Arthur being rescued from the Arctic Ocean after falling in, and sitting at his desk while he works on a story. The illustrator also makes the feeling of being overwhelmed by Holmes obvious - in one scene the detective looms over Arthur as he tries to work, in another he plays his violin while Arthur covers his ears and fan mail blows off his desk.
Back matter includes an author's note, a photo of Arthur, and a list of sources. A great book to introduce youngsters to this author and his most famous creation. I read a review copy provided by the publisher.