'"Realism pushed to its extreme limits": Digital Literary Mapping onto Victorian London'

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


This paper offers a new reading of maps in relation to Sherlock Holmes’ London by working across multiple forms of mapping over time. It starts with Charles Booth’s Maps Descriptive of London Poverty of 1889 and 1898-99; moves through Franco Moretti’s critical use of Booth in relation to his own arguments about Sherlock Holmes in Atlas of the European Novel; and finally offers a new reading of Conan-Doyle’s spatial practices and creation of urban realism by using digital tools to map out the texts.

The paper also engages with the explosion of different cartographic projects in the 1880-90s: Charles Booth’s maps of London Poverty; the Charles Goad Insurance maps; Kelly’s Post Office Directory Map and the O.S. London sheets of 1893-96. These maps are used in relation to locations in Conan-Doyle’s stories and allows the exploration of the thorny question of “accuracy” in relation to Holmes’s London. The final part of the paper fully problematises this issue of cartographic realism in relation to the mapping of literary works and offers new digital alternatives of visualising literary place and space.
Period6 Feb 2024
Held atNortheastern University, United States


  • Digital mapping
  • Detective fiction
  • Charles Booth
  • Literary criticism