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221B Baker Street. One of the most famous addresses in literature. But why?

Was there any reason Sir Arthur Conan Doyle chose this particular address as the residence of his famous protagonist? Did he have any links to that part of London?

EDIT: I've been told the house didn't exist at the time, but the street existed, and maybe the number 221 has other significance in his life.

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    "At the time the Holmes stories were published, addresses in Baker Street did not go as high as 221." - from Wikipedia. His first manuscript place Holmes' lair at "Upper Baker Street" – Gallifreyan Mar 21 '17 at 7:27
  • @Gallifreyan interesting... But the question still remains, why Baker Street? – Beastly Gerbil Mar 21 '17 at 7:34
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    Can you explain why you think there might have been particular significance to the choice of street? Are you interested in the characterization of the neighborhood at the time, or positing a personal connection, or something else? – Standback Mar 21 '17 at 7:40
  • @Standback unless it was completely random there must be some reason he choose an existing street in London. I am not sure in the connection by I'm seeing if someone else can find one – Beastly Gerbil Mar 21 '17 at 7:51
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All the unreputable Internet sources indicate that the numbering on Baker Street in Doyle's lifetime was only up to 100. Apparently Doyle initially called the street "Upper Baker Street".

One theory is that Doyle chose 221B - a non-existing address - to avoid some poor fella living there from receiving piles of mail an unwanted clients - which is the theory I subscribe to, as this is what a decent man would do.

Apart from that, there is no information I could find that would explain why Sir Arthur Conan Doyle chose 221B of all possible (higher-than-100) addresses.

Doyle himself lived at 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove, Southsea, Portsmouth, at the approximate time of writing his first stories. Wikipedia lists no accounts of Doyle living or working near Baker Street.


References (most copy each other verbatim anyway):

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Conan Doyle is giving the reader a clue as to Holmes' character. Educated readers at the time of publication would have picked up on these clues.

At that time, Baker Street was an upmarket residential part of London. To the western side - so not industrial, north of the river - so more fashionable, centrally placed near to major roads and railway stations - so good for travel, not in the really expensive parts of the metropolis - so Holmes is not rich.

There are other famous - real - people who lived in Baker Street around this time or earlier, including H.G.Wells and William Pitt the Younger.

In order for someone to be able to afford rooms in Baker Street, he would have needed to be comfortably off.

All the streets and districts of London mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes stories existed at the time. So it makes sense for the author to pick a real street with a certain cachet to round out the character.

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    That is an interesting perspective! – Gallifreyan Mar 27 '17 at 12:39

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