Victorian London was the perfect setting for Sherlock Holmes and his mysteries. The end of the nineteenth century was a time of great industrial and social change in London with new inventions like electricity and the newly opened Underground. Rich and poor lived side by side and the dark criminal side of London contrasted with the aristocratic Holmes and his elegant home in Baker Street. The street exists in London even though his house, number 221b, was invented. He and his assistant Dr. Watson spend much of their time there and it is the place where they solved many of their cases. Holmes uses horse pulled cabs (Victorian taxis!) to travel between the safety of Baker Street and the darker world of criminal London.

Another characteristic of Holmes’ London was undoubtedly the fog! Caused by the smoke of chimneys, trains and factories, it created a dark mysterious atmosphere even during the day time. Gas lit street lights helped create strange shadows, the sounds were like whispers and people came and disappeared like ghosts in the fog! It was a world of secrets where anything could happen and Conan Doyle used this atmosphere to create the perfect setting for his famous detective.

Illustration by Gianni De Conno, taken from The Return of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Reading & Training, Step Three (CEFR B1.2)