Sherlock Holmes: Man of mystery, or not? Timothy Long, the curator of the exhibition "Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die", poses with a deerstalker hat and a smoking pipe at the Museum of London (Reuters / ThinkStock)
Sherlock Holmes: Man of mystery, or not?
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Sherlock Holmes is among the most famous Londoners of all time. Many tourists still see the bustling city through his adventures, and seek out his address, 221B Baker Street.

It seems a logical deduction that the fictional 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 and 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 has been endlessly adapted. He's a cerebral sleuth, a forensic scientist and an archetypal Englishman.

Through film clips, costumes, 19th-century forensic equipment and more, the museum follows Holmes. It starts with an idea in Conan Doyle's notebook at one point he was called Sherrinford Holmes to the smartphone-toting modern detective played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC TV series "Sherlock."

The exhibition also looks at the relationship between the detective and London. The city, during Victorian times a little over a century ago, is a place of horse-drawn hansom cabs, dark corners, gaslight and fog.

Fog gets a whole room of its own in the museum exhibition. It's lined with atmospheric images by American photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn and other artworks, including a painting of London's River Thames by French Impressionist Claude Monet.

Cannadine, who has contributed to a book that accompanies the exhibition, said Conan Doyle's stories give a sense of the city that is vivid but in some ways misleading.

"He doesn't write about the traffic jams, he doesn't write about the smell of horse-droppings, he doesn't write about the filth of the pavements," Cannadine said. "It's a much cozier image, in a way."

For fans, the most exciting exhibit may be a yellowing notebook showing 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 Holmes' first adventure was published in 1887.

Conan Doyle, who died in 1930, probably didn't imagine that his creation would long outlive him. He tried to kill off Holmes in 1893, sending him tumbling over the Reichenbach Falls while grappling with archenemy Moriarty.

Readers were outraged. So the author resurrected the sleuth a decade later.

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."

"Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die" is at the Museum of London from Friday until April 12.

Critical thinking challenge: What does this mean: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die. How can that be?

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COMMENTS (63)
  • marissa50802
    10/22/2014 - 11:52 a.m.

    i like sherlock homes and yes i do declare him a man of mystery i read alot of him and i was shocked when i saw no one so i declare me to be the first!

  • mayae-Fit
    10/22/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    This article talks about the character of Sherlock Holmes, one of the most famous and remembered book characters of all time. There are plenty of well-known characters in books- Harry Potter, Tom Sawyer, and Katniss Everdeen,, to name a few. But Sherlock Holmes seems to surpass them all in terms of fame and being a household name. Everyone's heard of Sherlock Holmes. Even if you haven't read one of Conan Doyle's (the creator of Sherlock) books, or seen any of the movies based off of the books, or seen the TV show based off of the books and the movies, chances are you've still heard of his name and know who he is. This is why Sherlock is a man who never lived- hes a fictional character, not a real life person. And yet, he will never die. Sherlock Holmes is an icon. Hes a worldwide-known idol and a symbol you associate with good deductions and detectives. As I said before, Sherlock is a household name. His name and what he represents will never die out- hes just too famous. Especially with all of the interpretations/ adaptations (in the form of books, movies, TV shows plays, comic, etc) of Conan Doyles stories continually being added to his name. This, in conclusion, is how Sherlock Holmes is a man who never lived yet a man who will never die.

  • ct2000green
    10/22/2014 - 01:01 p.m.

    Sherlock Holmes is a man of mystery and there's no doubt about it. I'm a Sherlock Holmes fan and I love all of the creative stories and trials he's put through. I also enjoy how smart he is and manages to make every case seem like it would've been so simple to solve.

  • Bentley316
    10/22/2014 - 04:22 p.m.

    I believe that the satement, "The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die" means that Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character. There for he never lived, and the "Will Never Die" part is that Sherlock is so popular, he will live on forever. The fact that Conan Doyle tried to kill him off and his viewers got so upset he had to bring him back. Its been a very successful topic over the many many years its been on. If it ever does die, I hope its after my time, because I don't want to live to see the day.

  • MaxM-4
    10/22/2014 - 08:27 p.m.

    Sherlock Holmes, one of the most famous fictional characters ever created, started out as an idea in a notebook. In 1887, Arthur Conan Doyle published the first book, A Study in Scarlet. Conan Doyle tried to kill off the character in 1893, but readers were outraged, so he wrote more books. Sherlock Holmes is still very popular, and a more modern version of him is found on the BBC show "Sherlock."
    I love the show on BBC, so I wanted to read more about Sherlock's history. This article gave me some really interesting information.

  • MaxM-4
    10/22/2014 - 08:27 p.m.

    Sherlock Holmes, one of the most famous fictional characters ever created, started out as an idea in a notebook. In 1887, Arthur Conan Doyle published the first book, A Study in Scarlet. Conan Doyle tried to kill off the character in 1893, but readers were outraged, so he wrote more books. Sherlock Holmes is still very popular, and a more modern version of him is found on the BBC show "Sherlock."
    I love the show on BBC, so I wanted to read more about Sherlock's history. This article gave me some really interesting information.

  • SofiaA-4
    10/22/2014 - 08:33 p.m.

    In London, an exhibit entitled The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die" is showing until April 12, 2015. It is now a popular tour site for fans of the amazing detective that is Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, never intended to have his character be this popular. He even tried to kill him off but was criticized by fans. Fans have always been the "booster" of this series, leading up to one of the most popular versions, a modernized British television version starring Benedict Cumberbatch called "Sherlock."

    I absolutely love Sherlock Holmes and am a huge fan of the modernized version. I am now envious of any person who will see this exhibit. Arthur Conan Doyle was a brilliant author who should have been more proud of his work.

  • ChaseG-5
    10/22/2014 - 09:03 p.m.

    This article is about Sherlock Holmes and his adventures. Sherlock was created by an author named Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Many believe that he was a mastermind of knowing the streets of London but really he just studied London by an atlas. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tried to make Sherlock die in 1893 bit the public demanded him to bring Sherlock back so 10 years later Holmes resurrected. He was a detective that used his wits to solve mystery crimes. I think that Sherlock Holmes is one of the most famous fictional characters of all time. I find it cool that Sherlock was that smart that he could figure out crimes just by his wits.

  • BeckettN-2
    10/22/2014 - 09:39 p.m.

    This article is about Sir Conan Doyle's creation, Sherlock Holmes. Recently, Sherlock has been gaining a lot of attention in the media because of shows that remake his story, such as Sherlock and Elementary. I think it's great that Conan Doyle's legacy can live on through Sherlock.

  • SadieB-1
    10/22/2014 - 11:16 p.m.

    Sherlock Holmes, an Englishman and detective, has a whole exhibition dedicated to himself at the Museum of London. It touches on the descriptions of London in Conan Doyle's stories and how he never really spent much time in the museum. It also explores how Sherlock Holmes went from a 19th-century Englishman to a smartphone carrying detective of the modern day. Arthur Conan Doyle had originally planned to kill off Holmes by writing him death as a tragic fall with his archenemy into Reichenbach Falls. Since the readers were angry, he brought Sherlock back to life. Sherlock is clearly an incredible character and his exhibit is called "The Man Who Never LIved and Will Never Die". I personally loved Arthur Conan Doyle's stories a lot and I thought they were unlike any other book I read. In this passage, I learned that a lot of people are intrigued by this character.

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