Sherlock Holmes: Man of mystery, or not?
Sherlock Holmes is among the most famous Londoners of all time. Many tourists still see the city through his adventures. They often seek out his address, 221B Baker Street. And he wasn't real, but a character in a book.
It seems a logical deduction that the detective's creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, must have known the city well. In fact, historian David Cannadine said Conan Doyle didn't spend that much time in London. Instead, he learned much from a street atlas.
That is just one of the surprises provided by a Museum of London exhibition. It explores Holmes, a character who is a sleuth, forensic scientist and archetypal Englishman.
Through film clips, costumes, 19th-century forensic equipment and more, the museum follows Holmes.
The exhibition also looks at the relationship between the detective and the city of London. A little over a century ago, when the stories were written, London was a place of horse-drawn hansom cabs, dark corners, gaslight and fog.
Fog gets a whole room of its own in the exhibition. It's lined with atmospheric images by American photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn. There's even a painting of the River Thames by French Impressionist Claude Monet.
For fans, the most exciting exhibit may be a yellowing notebook. It shows the moment Holmes was created. It bears notes for a detective story in Conan Doyle's handwriting. The author has crossed out his original title, "A Tangled Skein" and written "A Study in Scarlet." It's the name under which Sherlock Holmes' first adventure was published in 1887.
Conan Doyle died in 1930. He probably didn't imagine that his creation would long outlive him. But the exhibition's lead curator, Alex Werner, said Holmes endures because he was strikingly modern.
"This was a character who was using scientific methods to unmask the incredible complexity of the modern world," Werner said. "He's the only one who can do it. We would all like to be Sherlock Holmes."