Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Baker Street

*Baker Street. London street on which Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson share upstairs (“first floor” in British terminology) lodgings at the fictional address of 221B. Their landlady, Mrs. Hudson, lives on the ground floor and provides meals and services for her lodgers, including answering the door and showing visitors up to Watson and Holmes’s flat. A large, airy room, cheerfully furnished and illuminated by two broad windows looking down into the street, their sitting room is the place where most of Holmes’s cases begin and where Holmes later explains to Watson how he has arrived at his solutions.

Sholto’s house

Sholto’s house. Residence of the art collector Thaddeus Sholto, near Coldharbour Lane, in south London. Holmes, Watson, and Miss Morstan, Holmes’s client, go there in a horse-drawn cab. Although a route is given, it is not possible to trace it on a modern map. Although some London streets mentioned in the novel—such as the Strand, Wandsworth Road, and Coldharbour Lane—do still exist, others are either invented or misnamed, or have names that have been changed. Enough real London street names are provided, however, to give a sense of traveling some distance through dark London streets. Sholto’s house, the third in a newly built terrace, is in an unfashionable part of London characterized by streets of brick houses and rows of two-story villas with tiny front gardens. The house’s entryway is ill-lit and poorly furnished, a great contrast to Sholto’s own apartments, which are richly furnished. Curtains and tapestries drape the walls and are hooked back to reveal paintings and...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Carr, John Dickson. The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. New York: Harper, 1949. Because it is based on a thorough perusal of Doyle’s private papers by one of the masters of the craft of mystery writing, it is considered the definitive biography.

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Annotated Sherlock Holmes. Edited by William S. Baring-Gould. 2 vols. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1967. This work is a veritable cache of information on Victorian England carefully compiled by one of the leading Holmes scholars. It is of particular interest because the bibliography includes references to a number of articles from The Baker Street Journal, the official publication of the “Baker Street Irregulars,” an organization dedicated to the study of the cases of Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Doyle, Arthur Conan. Memoirs and Adventures. Boston: Little, Brown, 1924. While this autobiography leaves many matters untouched and many questions unanswered, it does provide a valuable insight into the life and works of the author at the end of his career.

Farell, Kirby. “Heroism, Culture, and Dread in The Sign of Four.” Studies in the Novel 16, no. 1 (Spring, 1984): 32-51. An interesting study which concentrates on the parallels in the story, especially that between good and evil.

Jaffe, Jacqueline A. Arthur Conan Doyle. Boston: Twayne, 1987. An excellent brief introduction to Doyle’s life and especially to his works. Two chapters, “The Beginnings of a Modern Hero: Sherlock Holmes” and “The Return of Holmes,” deal with Doyle’s detective fiction. At the end of the work there is a short but useful bibliography.