To Catch a Thief
In Arthur Conan Doyle’s story Charles Augustus Milverton, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, equipped with a ‘first-class, up-to-date burgling kit’, are doing a spot of house-breaking. They are looking for documents which will incriminate the building’s owner, the blackmailer Charles Augustus Milverton.
The pair are in disguise, wearing silken masks specially made by Watson for the occasion.
For better or worse, masks transform people – as the students of Harbour School’s Key Stage 3 Group discovered while creating their own fanciful masks and costumes. Like those of Holmes and Watson, their disguises are designed to entrap criminals.
Each disguise comes with a different story.
- A thousand-year-old mummy, swathed in bandages (with stitches in his head and one red eye) is hoping to catch a tomb robber.
- A nuclear scientist, who has ‘a heavy Russian accent’, wants to stop a gang who are trafficking atomic weapons.
- A glamorous Las Vegas showgirl is intent on catching a casino embezzler,
- A curly-haired dancer in a pink feather boa is trying to discover the killer of her fellow-dancer, Lucy.
- A long-haired girl with a ‘cute stutter’ is after yet another murderer.
Hats and disguises in Sherlock Holmes
From The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
In The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle a very seedy and disreputable hard felt hat, much the worse for wear and cracked in several places’ provides the vital clue to the solving of the mystery.
In The Man with the Twisted Lip a man discovers that he can earn a better living as a matchseller than as a business man. His disguise is described in detail:
'His appearance, you see, is so remarkable that no one can pass him without observing him. A shock of orange hair, a pale face disfigured by a horrible scar, which, by its contraction, has turned up the outer edge of his upper lip, a bulldog chin, and a pair of very penetrating dark eyes, which present a contrast to the colour of his hair…'
Holmes also appears in disguise in this story as an elderly man in an opium den.
In A Case of Identity, a man weds an older woman for her money. If her daughter marries, he will lose some of this money. So he disguises himself as the daughter’s suitor to delay any prospect of marriage.
From His Last Bow In The Dying Detective’ Holmes pretends to be terminally ill (and fools Watson) so that he can trap the villainous Culverton Smith.
From The Return of Sherlock Holmes
In Charles Augustus Milverton, Holmes disguises himself as a plumber, and becomes engaged to a housemaid, during his investigations.
From The Hound of the Baskervilles
In Chapter 14 the hound is described as it appears terrifyingly on the moor. The dead animal is examined shortly afterwards, and found to be painted with phosphorus.
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Arthur Conan Doyle dressed as a Viking for his fancy dress ball.
Photograph of Arthur Conan Doyle taken on the day of his graduation as Bachelor of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.
Photograph of Arthur Conan Doyle disguised as 'Professor Challenger'
A glamorous Las Vegas showgirl is intent on catching a casino embezzler.
A thousand-year-old mummy, swathed in bandages (with stitches in his head and one red eye) is hoping to catch a tomb robber.
Curly-haired dancer in a pink feather boa is trying to discover the killer of her fellow-dancer, Lucy.
A nuclear scientist, who has ‘a heavy Russian accent’, wants to stop a gang who are trafficking atomic weapons.
A long-haired girl with a ‘cute stutter’ is after yet another murderer.
Photograph of Arthur Conan Doyle dressed in the uniform of the Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Surrey.
Illustration of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson in disguise