So Ardent a Bicyclist: Women’s Transportation in Sherlock Holmes
The world’s first consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes came to life in a world on the brink of change, and was very much a product of the late-Victorian era: he moved through a gas-lit, steam-driven London on his cases, and retired before the outbreak of the Great War. The fictional accounts of his cases provide a vivid impression of London in that period, not only atmospherically or visually but also socially and culturally. Using close readings of three specific cases, “The Man with the Twisted Lip” (1891), “The Speckled Band” (1892), and “The Solitary Cyclist” (1903), this dissertation seeks to explore whether popular fiction can be used as a lens for understanding contemporary social history, specifically with reference to three kinds of women’s mobility: bicycling, rail travel, and urban walking. Though fiction cannot be considered a factual record of real life, the choices of the author are not made in a cultural vacuum, and must, necessarily, be in some way representative of the attitudes of wider society.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Arts in Human Geography
Queen Mary University of London
28th August 2015