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Sherlock Holmes is 130

  He was over 1 m 80 cm tall, and so thin that he looked even taller. He had sharp eyes and a thin nose, and looked like a very  determined man. He wore a round "deer-stalker" hat and a Scottish cape (as in the picture below), and he smoked a pipe. Also, he was an expert in chemistry and British law, and he played the violin very well. His favourite expression was "Elementary, my dear Watson."
    This is the man who was almost called Mr. Sharps, then Mr. Ferreps, but finally appeared as Sherlock Holmes. And his life began 130 years ago, in 1887.
Shelock Holmes
The classic image of Sherlock Holmes. Basil Rathbone in 1939
    The world's most famous detective is now 130 years old, and although in fact he never really existed, he is today a very real part of English culture.
  Sherlock Holmes has passed on his remarkable methods to Scotland Yard. His analysis is based on the most detailed research. Holmes made famous the arts of observation and deduction.
  When he met Doctor Watson, his friend and assistant, for the first time, he said ;  "I see you have been to Afghanistan," But how did he know?  Watson looked like a medical and a military man. He had a dark skin, but his arms were white. His left arm was hurt. So Holmes concluded that he was an English army doctor, and he had recently come back from a hot country, with an injured arm. The only possible country, at the time was Afghanistan!
   "Elementary, my dear Watson!".
    Another example: when Dr. Watson showed him his watch, Holmes said: "I see that this watch belonged to your elder brother, who is now dead. He was an untidy man, and he was very poor, but he had periods of prosperity. At the end of his life he drank too much." Again, the explanation was elementary!

   Stanley MacKenzie, president of the Sherlock Holmes Society, said: "Holmes is a mental superman and an eccentric. I envy his facility for solving problems in his armchair, with his eyes closed and his hands joined."
 
Shelock Holmes
Benedict Cumberbatch filming for the BBC's modern day Sherlock series
   Yes, Holmes was very popular 130 years ago, and he is still very popular today... both as the "real" 19th century detective, and now as a modern 21st century detective.  There have been a dozen or so films about Sherlock Holmes since the 1970s; and since 2010, the BBC has had a big hit with the series "Sherlock", starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a modern-day Sherlock Holmes.
   Conan Doyle did not want Sherlock Holmes to live for so long! In fact he tried to stop writing  the Sherlock Holmes stories in 1893, with the story "The Final Problem". Holmes and Moriarty, his big enemy, had a fight at the Riechenbach Falls in Switzerland, and they fell together into the water. But the readers protested so much that Conan Doyle was forced to "resurrect" the detective. Holmes "miraculously" survived, and there was another book of stories ten years later. Now at Meiringen in Switzerland, at the site of the falls, there is a "Sherlock Holmes pub" and a "Sherlock Holmes hotel", and a large Sherlock Holmes museum.
   In England, there is a big "Sherlock Holmes Society". Members of the Society take the stories very seriously. They have meetings and discussions, where they talk about the books, and discuss some of the problems that still exist. For example, in one of the stories, Holmes took a train from London to Paris, but arrived in Paris before the train! How did he do it? One member looked at the train timetables of the 1890's, and found an explanation: He could have changed trains at Reading, near London, to arrive at the coast more quickly! It's elementary of course, for Sherlock Holmes.
   Sherlock Holmes is a legend that will not die.. Every week  about 40 cards and letters, addressed to Mr. Holmes, are delivered at his address, 221B, Baker Street, in London. People ask the detective to solve their personal mysteries for them — some letters even asked him to explain international events!
   There is a secretary who answers all the letters to Sherlock Holmes: she always says that Holmes has retired, and that he now lives in the country, where he keeps bees. It's a pity!



Word guide
WORD GUIDE
cape: sort of coat - elementary : very simple - remarkable: unusual and very good - deduction: the ability to deduce, or to see things that are not clear - hurt , injured - damaged -- untidy: not neat, careless in his habits - prosperity: good fortune -an eccentric: an unusual man, not normal - I envy: I wish I had - Falls : waterfalls, cascade - resurrect: bring back to life - site: place -  -retired: stopped working - bees: insects which make honey.

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Student Worksheet

Sherlock Holmes

Replace the missing words in this extract from the text

   Yes, Holmes was very popular 130 years _____ , and he is ______ very popular today... ______ as the "real" 19th century detective, _____ now as a modern 21st century detective.  There have _____ a dozen or _____  films about Sherlock Holmes _______ the 1970s; and ______  2010, the BBC has had a big hit with the ________  "Sherlock", starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a ______ -day Sherlock Holmes.
   Conan Doyle ______ not want Sherlock Holmes to live for ______  long! In fact he tried to stop _______  the Sherlock Holmes stories in 1893, with the story "The Final Problem". Holmes and Moriarty, his big enemy, had a fight at the Riechenbach Falls in Switzerland, and they fell __________ into the water. But the readers protested ______ much that Conan Doyle was _________  to "resurrect" the detective. Holmes "miraculously" survived, and there _______  another book of stories ten years ________ . Now at Meiringen in Switzerland, at the site of the falls, there _______ a "Sherlock Holmes pub" and a "Sherlock Holmes hotel", and a large Sherlock Holmes museum.

For teachers:



Pair work: sketches. Have pupils, working in pairs, imagine an interview in 1900 between a  journalist and Dr. Watson. Use information from the article.

Missing words exercise.
Most of the missing words in this extract are words that students need to take care with.  

There are  two post-posed adverbs ago and later ;  
There are several uses of the word so;
There are the  correlating conjunctions both... and
There is a word that often trips up learners of English, series – which always has an -s at the end, even in the singular.  

  As for verbs,
Students have to use the right form - the gerund - after stop,
They have to correctly form a passive
They have to use  the
correct variants of the common "there is" .... as used in the plural and/or  in past time

Other ideas?

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This teaching resource is © copyright Linguapress 1987 - 2017.
Fully revised and updated 2017 . Originally published in Freeway, the Intermediate level English newsmagazine.
Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised

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Intermediate level EFL resource
Level - Intermediate.
CEFR  LEVEL :  B2
IELTS Level :  5-6
Flesch-Kincaid  scores
Reading ease level:
70.4 - Fairly easy
 
Grade level: 6.7


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Discover Britain - tourism, life and institutions


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