Book Review: Sherlock Holmes – The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die

Sherlock Holmes – The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die – The Museum of London Companion to the Exhibition

review by BSB Maria

The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die

When I received a review copy of the catalogue of/companion book to the Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Museum of London, my first impression was that it is impossibly pretty. I know, that’s not a particularly objective comment, but it’s true. It’s a beautiful book; and an absolute must have for any fan/aficionado/lover of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle and Victorian and Edwardian London!

The cover itself is amazing and once you open it, you find a map of London from 1880 inside. The modern look of the cover stands in stark contrast to the map inside and once you start to turn the pages, you find yourself in nineteenth century London. Almost every single one of the 255 pages feature an image and information on different aspects of Sherlock Holmes and his world.

Each chapter focusses on a different aspect of Sherlock Holmes and his world – from the creation of and inspirations for the character, the London of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes, the illustrations by Sidney Paget and the Strand Magazine all the way to Sherlock Holmes in cinema and television. Each chapter is illustrated with the original illustrations of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Paget, contemporary photographs, newspaper clippings and art.

The book offers an insight into the history of the late nineteenth century, the rapid development of London and Arthur Conan Doyle’s connection to the great metropolis. Accompanied by photographs, paintings and drawings, the introductory chapter by David Cannadine highlights Arthur Conan Doyle’s connection to London as well as the historical, social, political and geographical issues Doyle’s work and specifically the Sherlock Holmes stories touch on.

The next chapter by John Stokes discusses the ‘bohemian habits’ of Sherlock Holmes, delving into Fin de Siècle culture, aestheticism, concert and theatre visits, dress code and the art of disguise. A whole way of life is summarized, offering a greater context to the city life and the social environment of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in the stories.

This insightful chapter is followed by a compilation of postcards, photographs and art prints of London at the turn of the century. It’s a marvellous collection, accompanied by fitting quotes from the Holmes stories. The images add depth to the stories which I had not known I missed until I held this book in my hand. Suddenly, the world of Sherlock Holmes, although only partly corresponding with the real London of the turn of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, becomes a real place.

Alex Werner’s chapter on Sidney Paget and the Strand Magazine reflects on the relationship between Arthur Conan Doyle, his English Sherlock Holmes illustrator, the magazine and the reading public, accompanied by gorgeous prints of some of the original (coloured) illustrations by Sidney Paget.

Pat Hardy writes about the industrial and cultural development of London, famous London views and the London fog, again featuring paintings and photographs, among them the utterly gorgeous painting “Westminster Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey seen from the River” (1872) by John Anderson and photographs by Alvin Langdon Coburn. These eerie photographs of famous London sights in particular send the reader on a journey back in time and connect us with the London of the early twentieth century. You can just imagine John Watson and Sherlock Holmes strolling through Leicester Square in the rain or stopping by Cleopatra’s Needle.

Clare Pettitt highlights the influence of the Sherlock Holmes stories on print media and the fate of the stories as throwaway literature in a time when mass production of literature was on the rise. Pettitt furthermore explains the importance of Holmes’s use of modern communication technology at the turn of the century as well as the use of newspapers to deliver encoded messages – a matter which features in several of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Following a small collection of maps of Sherlock Holmes’s London from the turn of the century, the next chapter follows Sherlock Holmes though the early stages of appearances on the silver screen. Nathalie Morris writes about the first Sherlock Holmes films – a chapter which includes behind the scenes images of several early productions, production posters and detailed information on the first filmic adventures of Sherlock Holmes up to 1939.

The final chapter features gorgeous prints and basic information on Sherlock Holmes adaptations after the 1940s. For all the wealth of information this catalogue offers the reader, the price of £25 is already justified by the fantastic prints of Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett and David Burke, a super lovely (yes, sorry, I am a bit biased) print of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in character in front of 221B Baker Street and the film posters of Guy Ritchie’s first Sherlock Holmes film and Elementary.

The book is out today, 16 October 2014, and is available at the Museum of London, in a whole lot of book stores, and, of course, online. It’s also currently on sale on!

The exhibitions opens on Friday, 17 October 2014 and runs until 12 April 2015!

I wholeheartedly recommend this book, as it is a delightful treasure box which will bring a smile to your face whenever you open it (or pet the pretty cover). It’s easily become one of my favourite companion pieces to Sherlock Holmes and his world!

best 25 pounds you’ll ever spend!

Book Review: Sherlock Holmes – The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die

Sherlock Holmes – The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die – The Museum of London Companion to the Exhibition review by BSB Maria When I received a review copy of the catalogue of/companion book to the Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Museum of London, my first impression was that it is impossibly pretty…. Read More »

From meta to Nigel Bruce in a lily pond: Gillette to Brett IV

Last weekend BSBs Kristina and I (Ashley) attended Gillette to Brett IV, a symposium on Sherlockian adaptation held on the gorgeous campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. From start to finish, the event, hosted by the inestimable duo of Steven Doyle and Mark Gagen of Wessex Press (quick! Buy all the books!), was a… Read More »

Sherlock Limited Edition Box Set coming in November

Well, if you wanted the ULTIMATE Sherlock box series, your prayers have been answered. A combo Blu-Ray and DVD set of all three series of Sherlock is due to hit shelves on November 4th. With over 800 minutes of footage plus bonus materials that include outtakes, a deleted scene, and new commentaries for the latest… Read More »

Episode 57: Sherlock Series 4 Predictions

[LISTEN] | [DOWNLOAD] (Save Link As) | [iTUNES] | [TRANSCRIPT] —————————————— Sherlock Series 4 is coming and we have lots of theories, thoughts, and one hell of a wishlist. From basting turkeys at Christmas to John Watson dying in Sherlock Holmes’ arms, our predictions for Series 4 will be, as Moffat says, “devastating.” Join BSBs Curly, Lyndsay,… Read More »

Femme Friday: Sally Donovan

Sally Donovan by Baker Street Babe Amy Sherlock Holmes is a polarizing figure, no matter when or where he appears. Some, like John Watson and Mrs. Hudson, learn to accept and even love Sherlock for his brilliance and eccentricity and in spite of his frequent coldness and lack of expressed emotional sensitivity. Others, found in… Read More »

New Sherlock fashion collection from Gold Bubble! And we have a discount!

Geek label Gold Bubble has a new Sherlock Holmes collection out for the summer! Seriously gorgeous dresses, leggings, tanks, and ponchos in all your favorite designs from Sherlock! Better yet, you can get 15% off your order by using the code BSB14JULY until the 21st! This can be used with a gift certificate as well, and if you’re aiming to get… Read More »

Femme Friday: Mary Morstan

Mary Morstan by BSB Lyndsay Faye Let’s chat about Mary Morstan for a sec.  No, not that one, the one you’re thinking of we’ll get to in a wee bit.  I’m talking first about the one who kicked so much canonical ass that she deserved her own spinoff series.  (Does this exist?  Tell me, please, if it happens to… Read More »

Femme Friday: Molly Hooper

Molly Hooper By BSB Amy Long, straight hair, lipstick that comes and goes, and an ironically macabre career—exploring unassuming but totally awesome Molly Hooper is a journey that starts with specific stories framed by the creators of the BBC’s Sherlock, finds its anchor in the Sherlock Holmes canon as a whole, and winds up the wider genre of… Read More »

New GoPop Update: Android is coming + worldwide access!

We’ve been working on the Sherlock commentary tracks for GoPop for a few weeks now and we’re just finishing up on series 2! You can now watch and read along with A Scandal In Belgravia and The Hounds of Baskerville while we finish up on the soul-crushing Reichenbach Fall. GoPop is great because they actually… Read More »

Femme Friday: Irene Adler

Irene Adler By BSB Lyndsay Irene Adler means many things to many people.  For some, she is the first truly legendary antagonist faced by Sherlock Holmes.  (Because really…do you spend much time ruminating over errant Mormons?  Does Jonathan Small get your panties in a twist?) For others, she is a plucky ringlet-haired sass machine who is allowed to tweak… Read More »