I’ve always been intrigued by the number of major figures in the Sherlock Holmes universe who aren’t major figures in the Canon – at least not in terms of their number of appearances.
Think about it:
- Irene Adler, the woman, shows up in “A Scandal in Bohemia” and is mentioned by name in three other stories (IDEN, BLUE, LAST).
- Mycroft Holmes has speaking roles only in “The Greek Interpreter” and “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans,” while being alluded to FINA and EMPT.
- Professor Moriarty, the Napoleon of Crime, is a major presence in “The Final Problem” and The Valley of Fear, although Holmes speaks wistfully of him in ILLU, LAST, MISS, and NORW.
- The Baker Street Irregulars, while presumably assisting Holmes in unrecorded cases, are on stage only in A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, and “The Adventure of the Crooked Man.”
With that as background, how often do you think 221B Baker Street – the specific address, that is – is mentioned in the Canon?
Surprisingly, a search turned up just six times in four stories – and three of those are in A Study in Scarlet.
“We met next day as he [Holmes] had arranged,” Dr. Watson tells us at the beginning of the second chapter, “and inspected the rooms at No. 221B, Baker Street, of which he had spoken at our meeting.” The 221B address shows up again in the newspaper advertisement by which Holmes hopes to trap the killer, and the third time in Jefferson Hope’s testimony.
The only other uses of the complete address in the Canon are also in adverts – in The Sign of the Four, “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,” and “The Naval Treaty.”
At least the good Watson was consistent. Archie Goodwin gives nine different addresses for the old brownstone on West 35th Street in the Nero Wolfe Corpus!