Locus Focus is a meme hosted by Shredded Cheddar. The goal is to write about your favorite settings in books. This is my very first post and I am excited to take part in this fascinating meme!
My setting for today is 221B Baker Street, London, England. This address is probably one of the most well-known fictional addresses - that of a building in London occupied by Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective and Dr. John Watson, his friend and companion.
Holmes' residence also serves as the office where he receives clients, and therefore, features in most of the novels and short stories in which he appears. When we first meet Holmes in A Study in Scarlet, Dr. Watson is looking for a room to share and is introduced to Holmes. The first impression Watson has of 221B is as follows: "They (the rooms) consisted of a couple of comfortable bed-rooms and a single large airy sitting-room, cheerfully furnished, and illuminated by two large windows." Later, we learn that the building is a three level home, with Watson's bedroom being over the sitting room. This probably made it easier for the doctor to stay confined to his bedroom when Holmes entertains his clients.
When any of these nondescript individuals put in an appearance, Sherlock Holmes used to beg for the use of the sitting-room and I would retire to my bed-room. He always apologized to me for putting me to this inconvenience. "I have to use this room as a place of business", he said, "and these people are my clients." ( A Study in Scarlet)
The sitting room was the most frequented part of the lodging, and was used for many purposes, the most famous being of course, Holmes' brilliant deductions. Holmes also used cocaine in this very room. "Nothing could exceed his energy when the working fit was upon him; but now and again a reaction would seize him, and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning to night." Holmes played the violin in this sitting room when, "leaning back in his arm chair of an evening, he would close his eyes and scrape carelessly at the fiddle which was thrown across his knee." The sitting room also doubled as a dining area, and Mrs. Hudson, their landlady provided the meals for the two men. And how can I not mention Holmes spraying the walls with bullets on a whim as shooting practice? Mrs. Hudson must have been a very accomodating landlady!
While the numbers in Baker Street did not run up to 221 during Conan Doyle's time, they do now, and the Sherlock Holmes Museum is now at 239 Baker Street (though the number on the door says 221B - see picture). Numerous letters are written to Holmes at this address every year, and there have been many debates related to the location of this address and the floor plan of the flat - not many fictional addresses can boast of such fame!
Here is an interesting link to an artist's plan of the rooms at 221B Baker Street and more notes related to the flat itself.