A close-up encounter with the world's most famous detective — Sherlock Holmes — is available to anyone visiting the National Library of Scotland later this week.
As a special treat for Book Week Scotland, the Library will be putting on display an original Sherlock Holmes story, handwritten by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1924.
It will be on public view between 12.30 and 14.00 on Friday 27 November. The crime theme will continue later that day when best-selling writer Val McDermid discusses her literary inspirations in a Book Week Scotland event at the Library.
The 38-page manuscript, written in black ink on lined paper, tells the story of the 'The adventure of the illustrious client'. It is one of very few Holmes manuscripts still remaining in Britain and was considered by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to be one of his best. It has classic Holmes ingredients: a dastardly middle European aristocrat; an archetypal English rose, to whom the villain is engaged; and a secret 'illustrious client' wishing to engage Holmes's services.
The manuscript was bequeathed to the Library by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's daughter, Dame Jean Conan Doyle, and it passed in to the possession of the Library in 2006. Previous to that it had been kept in a safe deposit box at Coutts' Bank in the Strand (a street name with strong Holmesian resonances). The gift acknowledged the importance of Edinburgh and Scotland in the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who was born in the city in 1859 and went on to study medicine there.
It will be on display with another original manuscript, 'The haunted grange of Goresthorpe', which is thought to be one of the first stories he ever wrote. The ghost story is believed to date from around 1877, when the young Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was eighteen, and it was never published in his lifetime. It is evidence of early experimentation by a writer who went on to become one of the world's most popular authors.
'Sherlock Holmes is one of London's best known fictional figures and his creator is one of Edinburgh's most famous literary sons,' said Sally Harrower curator of modern literary manuscripts at the National Library. 'We are delighted to be able to offer people the chance to see these manuscripts in celebration of Book Week Scotland.'
They will be on free display in the boardroom of the Library's main building on George IV Bridge, Edinburgh between 12.30 and 14.00.
Later at 18.00, Kirkcaldy-born Val McDermid, one of today's biggest names in crime writing, will be discussing her literary inspirations with critic and reviewer Stuart Kelly. Tickets priced at £5 are still available for the event which is being run in partnership with Scotland's Creative Writing Centre, Moniack Mhor.
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24 November 2015