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Deerstalker

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Deerstalker

A deerstalker is a type of hat that is typically worn in rural areas, often for hunting, especially deer stalking. Because of the hat's popular association with Sherlock Holmes, it is also a stereotypical hat of a detective.

Holmes was first seen wearing a deerstalker in Sidney Paget's illustration in The Boscombe Valley Mystery, although Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote Holmes as wearing one specifically, though he did describe him as wearing a "close-fitting cloth cap" and in Silver Blaze as wearing "his ear-flapped travelling cap". The idea of Holmes wearing the countryside hat in his city-based stories, as many have depicted, is unlikely, as Holmes is known to be fashionably aware and would never commit such a fashion faux pas.

The deerstalker cap helped Sherlock Holmes to become instantly recognisable in popular culture. The hat also appears in many adaptations in order to identify Holmes. There are often re-imaginings of how the hat came to be famous;

  • In the 1939 Fox films The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesBasil Rathbone's Holmes sports the cap as regular clothing. When the rights of the films were sold to Universal Studios by 20th Century Fox, Universal made the choice to re-marginalise the films as modern-day (1940s) British propaganda and therefore replaced the deerstalker with a fedora - in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror, Holmes and Watson are about to leave Baker Street when Holmes picks up a deerstalker and Watson protests "no, Holmes! You promised!" and Holmes reluctantly puts down the deerstalker in favour of a fedora.
  • The Granada Television Sherlock Holmes series shows Holmes wearing a grey deerstalker frequently, notably in the series' adaptation of "The Final Problem".
  • In Young Sherlock Holmes, Holmes takes the hat from a deceased friend at the protest of his friend Watson.
  • In the second series of the contemporary Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch's Holmes attempts to shield his face from paparazzi with the deerstalker, only to find that the media have twisted it into his official image. Sherlock himself despises the hat and the image it portrays of him, referring to it as "a death frisbee."

Some film makers make the decision not to include the image to avoid their version of Holmes resembling others'. For example, Guy Ritchie personally decided not to include the deerstalker in his Sherlock Holmes film, joking that only one person in history ever wore that hat.

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