Euston Road

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In Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian Gray’s fiancé, Sibyl Vane, lives on Euston Road with her mother and brother James. Euston Road runs parallel to the Thames, between The Regent’s Park and Hyde Park, and is the closest main road to the Euston Station, which connects to the road via Euston Grove (Victorian Google Maps). Camille Cauti, who provides the Introduction and Notes for my edition of Dorian Gray, comments that Euston Road is a, “Street in North London lined with inexpensive lodging” (69). Euston Road, originally called the “New Road,” was sanctioned to be built in 1756 to connect Paddington and Islington within London (Walford, “Euston Road”). Not only was the road constructed to further connect one end of London to the other, but Euston Road was also meant to provide a residential living area for the growing population of London: “The result was that the road was wholly residential, with long gardens in front of the houses and this pleasant effect was increased by laying out open squares which faced one another, such as Park Square and Crescent, Endsleigh Gardens and Euston Square. Mackenzie’s view (Plate 82a) shows the road in 1825 at the height of its fashion” (“Euston Road”). But by the time Oscar Wilde was writing Dorian Gray though, which would be at least fifty years from 1825, the beauteousness of Euston Road seemed to fade into what Wilde refers to as, “the dreary Euston Road.” (Wilde, 69). In the novel, Sibyl suggests to Jim that they visit the Park, unto which Jim responds, “‘I am too shabby,’ he answered, frowning. ‘Only swell people go to the Park” (Wilde 67). The siblings decide to go to the Park that is above their class anyway, and must walk down Euston Road to reach the Park. Sibyl and Jim’s walk down Euston Road is important in understanding Sibyl’s shift from poverty to prestige–or at least the facade of prestige that Dorian Gray is as a park is to nature. Euston Road, both historically and fictionally, seems to represent a type of transition, or rather fading, from one state of being to another.

Camille Cauti, Introduction. The Picture of Dorian Gray. By Oscar Wilde. New York: Fine Creative Media Inc., 2003. Print.

“Euston Road.” Survey of London: Volume 24, the Parish of St Pancras Part 4: King’s Cross Neighbourhood. Ed. Walter H Godfrey and W McB. Marcham. London: London County Council, 1952. 114-117. British History Online. Web. 15 November 2015.

Victorian Google Maps. Google Imagery 2015. 

Walford, Edward. ‘Euston Road and Hampstead Road.’ Old and New London: Volume 5. London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878. 301-309. British History Online. Web. 15 November 2015.