Date of Thesis



My thesis explores excerpts of the Sherlock Holmes canon through literary and historical lenses, and relies on close readings to investigate the representation of urbanity in the stories. For my work, I rely on the term "urban imagination" as I discuss the way that Arthur Conan Doyle places representations of real London places adjacent to fantasy urban locations of his own creation, and the effect that this has on the narratives and on Sherlock himself. Doyle uses urban imagination in his romanticization of city life, and his manifestation of a London particularly suited to Sherlock's needs. The kind of London which readers have come to expect from Sherlock's stories is presented in a very specific way, which not only informs Sherlock's character as an expert city navigator and the ultimate urbanite, but makes it possible for Sherlock to solve crimes in the way that he does. In this capacity, this thesis examines one aspect of Sherlock's world, and how it allows Sherlock to be Sherlock. Each of my three chapters approaches a different aspect of how urbanity is manifested by Doyle. Chapter one examines the city itself, chapter two explores the material artifacts which populate Sherlock's world, and chapter three follows Sherlock into the country and questions how urban imagination is used when Sherlock leaves his typical urban landscape. Each chapter includes a close reading of a few of the most pertinent Sherlock stories, as well as a consideration of the historical context of Doyle's writing. Through a unique combination of methodologies, this thesis contributes to the ongoing dialogue and prolific scholarship surrounding Sherlock Holmes, and stands as an exercise in literary analysis and theoretical integration. It is an attempt to approach some of the most influential popular literature in history from a new perspective, and the manifestation of a desire to further study one of the most fascinating and recognizable literary characters to date.


Sherlock Holmes, urban imagination

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Virginia Zimmerman

Second Advisor

John C. Hunter