In yet another reminder of the enduring, and seemingly eternal, appeal of Sherlock Holmes, the Museum of London is running an exhibition devoted to the great consulting detective. I was lucky enough to have an hour to spare in the capital the other day, and seized the chance to pay a visit. I'm glad I did. Like the other visitors who were there at the same time - and there were plenty of them; this is a popular show - I found much to enjoy.
Plenty of rare and precious items are on display, and I tremble to think what prices they would fetch if they ever came on to the market. We have, for instance, not only Conan Doyle's initial notes about Sherrinford Holmes and Ormond Sacker (in due course, the latter became Dr Watson) but also early illustrations for their stories, most notably by the legendary Sidney Paget. It's also wonderful to see that first manuscript, with the title A Tangled Skein crossed out. Conan Doyle opted for A Study in Scarlet instead.
There are numerous clips from film and TV, and I was glad to see moments from the Douglas Wilmer series that ran when I was a boy, as well as extracts featuring, among others, Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett and Peter Cushiing. I also loved an interview with Sir Arthur himself, filmed in 1927, just three years before he died, in which he discussed the genesis of the character, and what he was trying to do.
Inevitably, the Museum of London focuses heavily on the London background to the stories, and of course this plays an important part n their appeal. We see the cover of the original Strand magazine, of course, but also depictions of fog in the city, and much more besides. Although I'm an admirer of J.M.W. Turner, I had no idea that he'd painted The Reichenbach Falls, and I was really delighted to discover this in the exhibition too. There's not much (apart from mention of Poe) discussion of Sherlock's place in the genre as a whole, or the breadth of his influence. But this is a quibble from a genre fan. It's a fun exhibition, and I can recommend it.
My own enthusiasm for Sherlock has revived strongly in the past few years, and I'm contemplating writing a story featuring Professor Moriarty in the near future. I've been pleasantly surprised by the sales figures for my first original ebook, The New Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. The knowledge that plenty of readers out there want to devour more Sherlockian mysteries is encouraging me to write more of them myself. And if I needed a further nudge, this exhibition provided it.