“This case will make a stir, sir,” he remarked. “It beats anything I have seen.”
Portsmouth is celebrating 125 years since the world’s most famous literary detective Sherlock Holmes appeared in his first story, A Study in Scarlet, which was featured in Beeton’s Christmas Annual (1887).
Only a few first edition copies of this annual still exist, and Portsmouth City Museum has one of them. Portsmouth lays claim to the ‘birthplace’ of Sherlock Holmes, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle started writing his first novels featuring the legendary detective whilst living in the city. The city is also home to the world’s largest private collection of Conan Doyle books, objects and documents, following the donation from collector and writer Richard Lancelyn Green.
Stephen Fry, patron of Arthur Conan Doyle Collection Lancelyn Green Bequest, said “I25 years of the world’s most recognisable, enduring and influential detective. A century and a quarter of Sherlock Holmes. When Doctor John Watson, having been invalided out of the war in Afghanistan, found himself drifting towards Piccadilly Circus in London “that great cesspool into which all the idlers and loungers of the Empire are irresistibly drained” he little knew that a chance encounter with an old army friend in the Criterion Bar would lead him to the great meeting with one he would later describe as “the best and wisest man whom I have ever known”.
“Holmes is imperishable. Sometimes his reality, manners, traits, habits, turns of phrase, style of dress, his violin, cocaine, tobacco, deerstalker and magnifying glass obscure the achievements of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a man quite as remarkable as his best known creation. It is Conan Doyle we honour, thank and remember. The collection of his papers in Portsmouth is a fabulous treasure that Sherlockians, admirers of Doyle’s writing and those curious to find out more are grateful to know exists. It is carefully and professionally curated in the town for whose football club he once played in goal. “So raise a glass to the greatness of Doyle and the eternal glory of Sherlock Holmes, ushered into this world 125 years ago.”
There’s much more to see at Conan Doyle Collection (Lancelyn Green Bequest) Portsmouth.
Picture caption: Museum volunteer Aneta Martiskova. Photos courtesy of Portsmouth City Council. Culled from a Press Release by Portsmouth City Museum 20 November 2012.