Tag Archives: London

The Lady Novelist explores Sherlock Holmes’s London (Part 2)

I hit the ground running on my first day in London, what with the Britmovietours Sherlock Holmes walk and the much less strenuous delights of staying in the Langham Hotel.

My second day in London, “that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained” was spent even more energetically.

“I am the most incurably lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather—that is, when the fit is on me, for I can be spry enough at times”  ~ Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet.

I hesitate to say I was spry at all, but I was far from lazy.

Madame Tussaud’s

I’d always assumed the famous waxworks museum would be cheesy though slickly presented. I wasn’t especially tempted to visit, although I’ve been fascinated to read about the history of waxwork models and their role in studying anatomy through the publications of the now-defunct Morbid Anatomy Museum.

A visit to Madame Tussaud’s was on the cards, though, because of its Sherlock Holmes Experience theatrical event. And also because it houses a couple of Sherlock Holmeses!

The waxworks is every bit as cheesy as I’d expected, and also very slick – and a huge amount of fun.  It’s a curious collision of the historical and the new, because Madame Tussaud originally made her waxworks of famous figures in the late 18th century. Here we are in the 21st with essentially the same technology and the same purpose – but now we can take selfies with our celebrity substitutes. Knowing they’re wax replicas doesn’t diminish the fun. In fact, if you’re a Doctor Who fan, you can imagine them all as Autons about to come to life and the fun just doubles.

Naturally I had photos taken with a few of my favourite historical and theatrical faves: William Shakespeare, Freddy Mercury, Helen Mirren and Benedict Cumberbatch.

It’s a labryinth inside, but eventually we came across the entry to the Sherlock Holmes Experience. Robert Downey Junior’s Sherlock stood sentry in the chamber, designed to look like a Victorian London Street.

The Experience is a bit of a mixed bag – the Baker Street set is good fun, and Mrs Hudson’s greeting and explanation of the puzzle is full of pizzazz. It’s fun to be sent through doors and find yourself at the docks, the morgue and other locales. The final part of the story gallops a bit quickly to a close and feels like it runs out of puff. But never mind: the crypt in which you find yourself is full of headstones with fabulously silly puns which you’ll get if you know your Conan Doyle canon.

London Walks: Sherlock Holmes’s London

Not content with punishing the shoe leather as mentioned, Tim and I went on to join the regular Friday afternoon Sherlock Holmes’s London tour run by London Walks.

Our guide was Richard (the Fourth of his name at the company) who was led us on our two-hour tour with its focus on Arthur Conan Doyle’s life and inspirations in London as well as locations from the 60 Sherlock Holmes stories he gave us.

Richard not only knows his ACD and Sherlock Holmes stuff, he speaks with warmth and wit. On the rare occasions this walk overlapped with the Britmovietour’s, Richard provided different anecdotes, so nothing is lost by going on both walks.

If you’re more a fan of the original stories than the various film versions, this is probably the walk for you, as it winds around places where Conan Doyle lived or visited as well as locations he used or was inspired by in creating his iconic characters.

In any case, for £10 it’s a great look at London and Sherlock Holmes, set at a pace that even Mycroft might easily manage, let alone Sherlock on a lazy day.

I have no secrets from Sherlock Holmes: Tim Richards and I are being hosted on this trip by VisitBritain.

While you’re in a Sherlockian mood, you might like to read my Holmes ♥ Watson novel The Adventure of the Colonial Boy, or a traditional Holmes + Watson short story.

Speaking of which, my Holmes + Watson story The Problem of the Three Journals, an alternative universe tale of Holmes and Watson as a pair of Melbourne hipsters who run a cafe and solve mysteries, will appear in Baker Street Irregulars 2: The Game is Afoot in 2018. You can pre-order your copy now!

The Lady Novelist explores Sherlock Holmes’s London (Part 1)

I am off on one of my semi-regular jaunts to the UK for the purposes of research and fun (which are usually the same thing).

2017 marks 125 years since Arthur Conan Doyle’s collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was published (1892) and 130 since A Study In Scarlet first saw print.

In fact, VisitBritain is all about 2017 as ‘the year of the literary hero‘, referencing anniversaries related to Jane Austen, Enid Blighton,  the Harry Potter books, the death of war poet Edward Thomas and more.

My own special interest in Sherlock Holmes – in both queer and bromance interpretations – is leading me to Holmesian London over a the next three days. I aim to incorporate a few of these details into both Victorian and modern Holmes stories I’m working on.

The Langham

The Langham Hotel on Portland Place (off Regent Street) has more than one connection with The Great Detective.

Famously, it was at the Langham’s dining room in 1889 that Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle (not yet ‘Sir Arthur’) met with the publisherJoseph Stoddart. They were commissioned to write A Picture of Dorian Grey and The Sign of Four respectively (and even gave each other cameos in the resulting books).

Doyle went on to assign the Langham as the hotel of choice for three of his characters: The King of Bohemia (A Scandal in Bohemia), Mary Morstan’s lost father (The Sign of Four), and the former tearaway and poet Mr Phillip Green (The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax).

The Langham remains every bit as charming and elegant as its literary history suggests. The various restaurants and bars are lovely spaces to visit the hotel and raise a glass to Conan Doyle and his creations.

Britmovietours:Sherlock Holmes Walking Tour of London

The Sherlock Holmes Walking Tour of London, conducted by Chris Taylor of Britmovietours, is marvellously inclusive of Conan Doyle’s original stories, several films, the recent BBC and U.S. television adaptations, and even a glimpse of my favourite, the show that brought me to Holmes, the Jeremy Brett Granada series from the 90s.

Chris is enthusiastic and, even better, knowledgeable. I know a lot about the world of Holmes, having researched and read the stories multiple times as prep for writing The Adventure of the Colonial Boy and some upcoming short Holmes + Watson stories, but he was still able to surprise me with some tidbits about canon and BBC Sherlock.

The walk starts on Piccadilly Circus at The Criterion Bar, where John Watson’s old friend Stamford famously noted that he knew someone who might want to share ‘comfortable rooms at a reasonable price’ with him.

A meandering two hour wander took us past filming locations, over Waterloo Bridge and past some of Conan Doyle’s real-life haunts and inspirations (including the former Northumberland Hotel, now the Sherlock Holmes Pub) to fetch up at Somerset House. The latter is no longer the repository of records of Births, Deaths and Marriages but it stands in as a less reputable location in one Holmesian film.

The walk is £12 for adults: very reasonable given Chris’s energy and knowledge shared over two hours. If you want to know more, visit and book here.

I am about to topple over from lack of sleep (I touched down this morning, and headed out with half a globe and five hours sleep under my belt – GO ME!).

Tomorrow I’ll visit an exhibition and take another walk – so more reports from the field (hopefully more useful than Dr Watson’s during The Solitary Cyclist) are coming!

I have no secrets from Sherlock Holmes: Tim Richards and I are being hosted on this trip by VisitBritain.

Pssst. While you’re reading, please consider reading my new short story Near Miss, and my M/M paranormal thriller, Ravenfall, which is set in London!