Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s notebook, containing the first ever lines of a Sherlock Holmes story, is now on display at the Museum of London, in the most comprehensive exhibition about the fictional London icon, to be staged in a generation.
The notebook, used by Conan Doyle between 1885 and 1889 while he practised medicine in Southsea, contains the germ of a A Study in Scarlet, which would go on to achieve global popularity.
In the exhibition it will appear alongside a separate page of notes, last on public display in the 1951 Festival of Britain, where Conan Doyle refers to “Sherrinford Holmes” and “Ormond Sacker”, who would later become Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. The page is on loan from the heirs of Anna Conan Doyle.
Alex Werner, Head of History Collections at the Museum of London, said: “Sherlock Holmes is a global icon indelibly linked with London, so it is fitting that we are able to host this major celebration of Conan Doyle’s creation at the Museum of London. This exhibition is really about gaining a deeper appreciation of the stories and it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see such a diverse collection of Sherlock Holmes artefacts and material under one roof.”
The exhibition takes a thematic approach in the section ‘The Many Sides of Sherlock Holmes’. The museum’s unrivalled Victorian and Edwardian collections are presented in a suitably Holmesian way, allowing for discovery and deduction. Items, not normally on display, include the automaton ‘Psycho’, a violin owned by Jeremy Bentham, a model of a hansom cab, a phrenological head, a telegraphic receiver, a theatrical wig worn by Sir Henry Irving as well as a number of different costume outfits suitable for Holmes in disguise. There are five main traits dealt with: Holmes the mastermind, the forensic scientist, the Bohemian soul, the model Englishman and the master of disguise. Highlights include the iconic Belstaff coat and Derek Rose dressing gown worn by Benedict Cumberbatch, and the ‘Wall of Rats’ set from the BBC Sherlock series.
Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die opens at the Museum of London on Friday 17th October 2014 and runs until Sunday 12th April 2015.
For more information and to book, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk/sherlock.