Mr Holmes’ London
Out today: The Murder of Mary Russell, in which we meet a young Holmes, and also see a much older version of the Great Detective remembering those far-off days. I hope you enjoy it.
Key to The Murder of Mary Russell is the past of Sherlock Holmes, and especially the Victorian city through which he moved with such thorough and expert familiarity:
If London’s buildings and roads had changed since the days of his youth, even more so had the architecture of crime. Walking through London forty years ago, he could have named every dip, broadsman, and palmer who went by—along with the mobsman who ran him and the beak who’d last sent him down.
It looked like a cleaner city now. The Ripper killings, that bloody spasm that took place seven years after he’d moved into Baker Street, would be difficult today under London’s electric glare—though by no means impossible. And the average citizen was less likely to climb off an omnibus with empty pockets or wake up in an alley with a bloodied head—but it still happened. The dirt remained; it had just got pushed into the corners.
In case you’re visiting London in 1879
and you want to just linger in the vicinity of places where Sherlock Holmes or Mrs Hudson might pass, Mr Charles Dickens Jr has some suggestions for you—and a caveat.
The early morning begins with an exercise ride in Rotten-row. In the afternoon, grand parade in the same place, with splendid show of carriages in the Drive. It is here that a stranger will get his best view of the London “world.”
If all you care about is not to be stared at, you may now walk about most parts of London in any ordinary English costume. If, however, you wish to go into the park during parade hours in the season, to the “Zoo” on Sunday afternoons, the Horticultural Gardens, or any other fashionable resort, gloves, chimney-pot hat, orthodox morning coat, &c., are still essential.
Evening dress is not de rigueur in any part of any of the theatres, though on the whole it predominates in the stalls. Don’t wear a scarlet opera-cloak, however, if you can help it. It is commonly regarded by the initiated as strong evidence that its owner has come in with an “order.” Ladies frequent the stalls as much as any other part. At the Italian operas evening dress is indispensable in every part except gallery. This rule is rigorously enforced to the smallest detail, and it is hopeless to think of evading it.
(Dickens’s Dictionary of London 1879, An Unconventional Handbook, by Charles Dickens [Jr.], here.)
The Murder of Mary Russell can ordered as: