London show holds up magnifying glass to Sherlock Holmes

Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:48am EDT
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By Freya Berry

LONDON (Reuters) - How do you make an exhibition about a man who never existed?

The Museum of London show on Sherlock Holmes, which opens on Oct. 17 after two years of preparation, acknowledges the conundrum with its title, "The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die".

Visitors enter the show through doors masquerading as bookshelves in a physical embodiment of the engaging blend of reality and fiction that characterizes British author Arthur Conan Doyle's tales of the world-famous detective.

The displays include everything from the specially designed Belstaff coat worn by Benedict Cumberbatch in the recent BBC series to original manuscripts written in Conan Doyle's careful cursive.

The author, who aspired to be an eye doctor before turning to literature, can be seen in a 1930 clip of what is believed to be his only filmed interview.

In contrast, his creation has hogged the limelight for over a century. The show's curators say Holmes is the most-filmed character of all time, starring in over 200 adaptations. The earliest film on display is a French version from 1912.

"The only two characters I found that came close were Dracula and Frankenstein," curator Alex Werner said.

The museum traces the evolution of Holmes, from the arrival of the famous deerstalker hat in Sidney Paget's illustrations for the short stories that appeared in the Strand Magazine, to the curved pipe in the theater performances of William Gillette as Holmes.   Continued...

A worker looks at a "Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die" exhibition poster at the Museum of London in London October 16, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth