Beautiful old houses, private gated gardens and swish hotels are what most visitors to Marylebone, London first see. But look a little deeper and you’ll stumble upon the incredible literary history there for us all to explore. From Arthur Conan Doyle to Robert Louis Stevenson, Marylebone sure does hold some stories.
Sherlock Holmes Museum
Simply a must-visit for any self-professed literature fan. Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary hero and super sleuth first appeared in print in 1887 in A Study In Scarlet and he’s been based at 221b Baker Street ever since. Today that address is occupied by none other than the Sherlock Holmes Museum, an homage to one of literature’s most famous detectives. There you’ll find a veritable shrine to the world created by Conan Doyle, with Sherlock Holmes’ study and Mrs Hudson’s room faithfully reproduced. Plus, you’ll discover Victorian murder weapons, artefacts from the era and waxworks depicting scenes from the iconic stories.
This aristocratic square is not only beautiful and historic, but central to British literary history. Indeed, it is pivotal to the structural meaning of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886). The former lives in Cavendish Square, in a house described as having “a great air of wealth and comfort.” In comparison, his alter-ego Mr Hyde inhabits the dark and gloomy alleys of nearby Soho, at that time considered a den of crime and vice. The contrast between respectable Cavendish Square and dangerous Soho echoes the split between the two personalities, and the difference between an exterior, ‘civilised’ veneer and human kind’s inner nature.
Marylebone’s Blue Plaques
The blue plaques that you see on buildings throughout London are part of a project that started in 1866, with the aim of linking the buildings of the present with the people of the past. You can find out where people were born, lived, worked and died simply by looking up whenever you see a plaque.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
There are actually two plaques to this famous Victorian poet in Marylebone. During her life she lived and worked in two houses in Marylebone: one at 50 Wimpole Street and one at 99 Gloucester Place. A poet from the age of 6, Barrett Browning first came to prominence in 1844 with the publication of her book Poems and she later went on to marry the writer Robert Browning.
William Wilkie Collins (1824-1889)
This British novelist, playwright and short story writer was born in Marylebone in 1824. He was resident at 65 Gloucester Place at one point in his life, as well as travelling extensively in Europe. The Woman in White (1859) and The Moonstone (1868) are two of his most notable novels.
Edward Gibbon (1737-94)
Renowned historian and author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788), Gibbon lived at 7 Bentinck Street between 1773 and 1783. He was also a Member of Parliament and named an honorary professor in ancient history at the Royal Academy.
Anthony Trollope (1815-1882)
Trollope was a much-esteemed author of the Victorian era. Born in Marylebone, the plaque records that he resided at 9 Montagu Square at one time in his life. A writer on social, political and gender issues, he was best known for his series The Chronicles of Barsetshire, about a fictional English county.
Rose Macaulay (1881-1958)
Dame Rose Macaulay lived and died in Hinde House in Marylebone. The notable writer, most famous for her novel The Towers of Trezibond (1956) was known for her writings on Christianity, spirituality and travel.
Tom Moore (1870-1944)
Poet, author and artist Thomas Sturge Moore lived at 85 George Street, Marylebone. A prolific writer, his most famous works are on the subjects of morality, art and the spirit.
George Grossmith (1847-1912)
An English comedian, writer, composer and singer, Grossman was prolific in the 19th century. As a writer, he created 18 comic operas, three books and contributed both serious and comic pieces to newspapers and magazines. He lived at 28 Dorset Square in Marylebone.
Captain Frederick Marryat (1792-1848)
A British navy officer and novelist, Marryat live at 3 Spanish Place in Marylebone. An early pioneer of the sea story, his best known works include Mr Midshipman Easy (1836) and The Children of the New Forest (1847).
Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924)
Celebrated author of The Secret Garden (1911), The Little Princess (1905) and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1885-6), Hodgson Burnett lived at 63 Portland Place, Marylebone.
Sir Arthur Pinero (1855-1934)
An English actor and playwright, Pinero lived at 115a Harley Street in Marylebone between 1909 and his death in 1934. A prolific author, he wrote a total of 59 plays surrounding the issues of society and sexism and was one of the only playwrights of the day to write parts for strong female leads.