Thursday 14 March 2024

221A Baker Street

    A moment of Holmes-like deduction suggests that, if there is a 221B, there must be a 221A, and possibly a 221C. What did the tenants above and below think of having their peace disturbed by Sherlock Holmes's patriotic shooting practice or the mysterious and odd people who regularly came to his door? And why did such a brilliant and successful investigator, called on by the rich and famous, able to afford a special train to take Dr. Watson and himself to the scene of crime, need to share lodgings in what seems to be essentially a rooming house? We are told by Dr. Watson in A Study in Scarlet that the accommodation at 221B Baker Street ‘consisted of a couple of comfortable bedrooms and a single large airy sitting-room, cheerfully furnished and illuminated by two broad windows.’ So desirable in every way were the apartments, and so moderate the terms when divided between the two men, ‘that the bargain was concluded upon the spot.’ We also learn that the sitting-room was Sherlock Holmes’s office and the place where he received his visitors, which meant that Watson had to be banished to his bedroom when anyone arrived on business, which was not infrequently. It hardly seems a satisfactory arrangement and I am not surprised that eventually, despite the moderate cost, Watson moved out.
P.D. James, Talking About Detective Fiction (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 2009), p. 38.