Ep. 21. A Walk Down Fictional Lane: Famous literary addresses

We come to associate the fictional characters we love with an item of clothing, a hairstyle, or a phrase. But there are some characters that even have an address. Granted, many of these address are as fictional as the characters themselves, but that doesn't prevent us readers to add them to our fictional address books, or fictional rolodexes (because who knows when we are going to need a fictional detective or nanny, right?). So if you are up for a walk down fictional lane, we have prepared a compilation of famous literary addresses. 
Photo from GettyImage

📗 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
    📬 Safron Hill, London (Fagin's den)

Safron Hill is one of the streets in a former slum of London. It is the place where Fagin, the criminal who shelters a group of kids he has taught how to pickpocket, has his den. It is here where Oliver is taken immediately after he first encounter with one of Fagin's associates. The little orphan was not impressed with the place, or rather, he had an impression, and it was very bad, since he tells us in the book that "A dirtier or more wretched place he had never seen." 

Among the many editions of Oliver Twist, the one from the Clothbound Classic series from Penguin Classics stands out. The cover, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, features several pocket watches, in reference to pickpocketing, and it is a fresh nod to the antique art of bookbinding. It is our choice for our Cover Gallery this week.

Clothbound edition from Penguin Classics, 2009

📗 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
    📬 4 Privet Drive (The Dursleys)

Another literary orphan with an address in London is Harry Potter. The famous magician is living with the Dursleys in the cupboard under the stairs at 4 Privet Drive when we meet him in the first book in the series. Harry was left at the doorstep at this address by Dumbledore when he was an infant, and until now his life here has not been too pleasant. . But early in the book, Harry receives a letter that will change his life and introduce him to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 

Fans of Harry Potter can own an embroidered zip bag in the form of letter postmarked to his address in Privet Drive. 
                        
Harry Potter embroidered letter zip bag from Embroidered by Megan

Or if you find yourself in King's Cross Station, London, there is a great photo op in platform 9 3/4, where you can look like you are pushing a luggage trolley through the brick wall that will magically transport you to the Hogwarts Express. 
Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station. Photo by Sarah Ehlers

If you are reading, or rereading, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and get cravings for Harry's favorite dessert, treacle tart, we have found a delicious recipe in Half-Scratched blog. 

📗 Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
    📬 No. 7 Saville Row, Burlington Gardens (Phileas Fogg's home)

This fictional address is the home of the protagonist, Phileas Fogg. It is also the starting point for the trip that would take him circumnavigating the world to win a £20,000 bet that he can do so in merely 80 days. Phileas travels alongside his valet, Passepartout, a French word meaning "goes everywhere" and a play in the English word passport. With just a carpetbag for luggage, Phileas and his valet ride trains, steamship, even elephants, in order to complete the ambitious itinerary. 

If you want to be a modern-day Phileas Fogg, Princess Cruise, Viking Cruises, Holland America, and Oceania Cruises all offer luxury around-the-world itineraries. All of the itineraries take longer that 80 days, so we do not recommend you emulate the bet Phileas made in the book. Also, you will not encounter as many dangers as the characters in Verne's novel, but the once-in-a-lifetime adventures are most likely guaranteed. 

The book is the perfect bibliotherapy for armchair travelers. And if you enjoy reading about Phileas racing the clock to go around the world in 80 days, you might enjoy binge watching on the show The Amazing Race, where eleven teams of two travel around the world, not necessarily in 80 days, completing tasks for a chance at one million dollars. 

📗 Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
    📬 27A Wimpole Street, London (Home of Henry Higgins, phonetics professor)

This is another book in which a bet set in motion the events of the story. This time the bet is made by Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics who claims he can turn a flower seller into a refined lady by coaching her on the way she speaks. The address assigned to Professor Higgins in the play is set at 27A Wimpole Street, a thoroughfare known for its abundance of medical practices, even today.  

Pygmalion is great bibliotherapy for readers who want to think while they have a good laugh. The play, itself a reimagining of the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea, has been adapted into the movie My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn. 

📗 Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers
    📬 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London (Banks family's home)

How could we not mention this supercalifragilisticexpialidocious address? The smallest house in the street, where Mary Poppins arrive to be the nanny to the Banks family. But Mary Poppins is no regular nanny, with her playing make-believe can be really magical. 

And for a bit of make-believe of your own, why not own a lanyard made out of Mary Poppin's tape measure from Orrys Store? Or a replica of Mary Poppins' umbrella from Walking Legends? Or a personalized Victorian carpetbag like the nanny's magical one from Max Carpetbag Works?  Or a sugar bowl to store all your spoonfuls of sugar from More Than Porcelain

Clockwise from upper left: Sugar bowl from More Than Porcelain; Mary Poppins umbrella from Walking Legends; Mary Poppins' tape measure lanyard from Orrys Store; Victorian carpetbag from Max Carpetbag Works.

The magic of the book has been captured in film twice, with Mary Poppins being interpreted by Julie Andrews (1964) and Emily Blunt (2018).

📗 84, Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff
    📬 84 Charing Cross Road, London (Marks & Co. Booksellers)

The address in the title is the only one in this list that comes from a non-fiction book, but for book lovers, this address is as evocative as any other found in novels or plays. It corresponds to the location of the former Marks & Co. antiquarian bookshop, where Frank Doel was the chief clerk. The book is the collection of the letters exchanged for 20 years between Mr. Doel and the New York based author Helen Hanff. 

This witty and honest book is our selection for Six-Word Review this week, because we adore it. Here it is: Epistolary record of love, book love 

For Book vs. Book this week, we have chosen the addresses of two of the most famous sleuths in literature, with both happened to have fictional addresses in London.

📗 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
    📬 221B Baker Street, London (Home of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson)

If we talk of fictional addresses, probably the first one that comes to mind is 221B Baker Street, right? This is the address of the home that Sherlock Holmes shared with Dr. Watson. At the time the stories of Sherlock were published, Baker Street did not extend to include number 221; however as time elapsed, the street grew and the Abbey National Building Society occupied the lots 219-229, which included number 221. For years, the Abbey National Building Society received countless letters addressed to Holmes at 221B Baker Street and it had to employ a full time secretary to be in charge of this specific correspondence. But when the Sherlock Holmes Museum, located at 237-241 Baker Street, placed a plaque with number 221B assigned to their location, a battle ensued over who should be receiving the correspondence address to Sherlock, the museum or the Abbey National. The battle lasted for 15 years and it was finally resolved when the Abbey National Building Society vacated the premise. Ironically, Sherlock might have assisted solving this mystery regarding the letters addressed to the famous address. 
221B Baker Street from the inside. Photo by Gercanno

Fans of Sherlock might want to visit this museum we have mentioned, which reimagines Sherlock Holmes' study, and contain items like his violin, his Persian slippers, and his tweed cap. While in the mood for a day spent following on the footsteps of the famous detective, grab a Sherlock Holmes Ale at The Sherlock Holmes pub, eat at Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, like Sherlock used to do, or book a walking tour of London inspired by the famous detective with London Walks

Or maybe you would like to bring Sherlock's London home with the board game titled, appropriately for the episode, 221B Baker Street.     

📗 The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie 
    📬 56B Whitehavens Mansions, London (Home of Hercules Poirot)

Agatha Christie debuted with The Mysterious Affair at Styles and besides introducing herself, she also introduced us to the eccentric Belgian detective Hercules Poirot. After Poirot arrives in England at the onset of WWI, he takes residence in an apartment at an art deco building located at 56B Whitehavens Mansions. The apartment in which he resided for some time was close to Styles Court, where, as we know early in the book, the wealthy owner has been poisoned and Poirot is tasked with solving the mystery and finding the murderer among many suspects. Both Christie and the resident of 56B Whitehavens Mansion are superb in this book.

Would you be able to guess the famous literary character who lived at 7 Eccles Street, Dublin by reading the first line in the book? If yes, let us know by visiting our GuessWork page. 



To buy books covered in this episode, visit our TBR Bundles.
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