Grosvenor Square in A Picture of Dorian Gray

Daniela Velez

Prof. Swafford

ENG 493-02

Final Project, Location: Grosvenor Square in A Picture of Dorian Gray

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.01.04 AMGrosvenor Square is the home Dorian Gray while he is going about being a bad boy all around the city of London. He also has a home out in the country, Selby Royal. Grosvenor Square is a very upper class area that is completely upper class/wealthy. The outlying area is also upper middle class/well-to-do.Any trace of a lower class area is barely visible and far away.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.05.30 AMAccording to a source I found on the British History’s website, Grosvenor Square was built between 1725 and 1731. It was one of the largest upper class squares in the West end and went through many architectural changes over the next two centuries (which would bring us into the time period of Dorian Gray). It is important to note that, “The high social status of the square was nevertheless one of the constants of the estate” (Sheppard). Therefore, it would make sense why Wilde chose this setting to be the center of Dorian’s life in the city.

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The debauchery and hedonistic lifestyle Gray partakes in stands in stark contrast to what one would expect of a resident of Grosvenor Square but it also adds to his dandy/aesthetic image he maintains despite his tarnished reputation. As stated in the excerpt above, the aesthetic movement was almost embodied by Grosvenor Square. Many of the homes were testaments to excess for the sake of excess.


Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.21.02 AMA search of the Old Bailey shows a history of robberies and some crimes around and very few in Grosvenor Square but the map that has these images only go up to 1834. A more narrowed search of the years 1875 to 1913 (the time period we are interested in for our purposes relating to the text since they come before and after the events taking place fictionally) resulted in hits that distinguish Grosvenor Square as defendant’s homes, not the actual place of crimes. There are nine robberies and one case of fraud that actually took place in Grosvenor Square during 1875-1913.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 7.14.38 PMThis makes the murder Gray commits in Grosvenor Square in Chapter Thirteen and the covering up of the crime in Chapter Fourteen, all the more shocking and controversial. It would make Victorian readers question the picture perfect upper class dandy and wonder what evils may lurk in the minds of the upper classes in general. A great moment takes place in Chapter Twelve with the victim and Dorian Gray. Mr. Gray says, “In this fog, my dear Basil? Why, I can’t even recognize Grosvenor Square.” This moment emphasizes the importance of locations and reminds readers to pay attention to what a location implies and how those implications can be undermined.


Works Cited

“Booth Poverty Map & Modern Map (Charles Booth Online Archive).” Booth Poverty Map & Modern Map (Charles Booth Online Archive). N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

‘Grosvenor Square: Introduction’, in Survey of London: Volume 40, the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings), ed. F H W Sheppard (London, 1980), pp. 112-117 [accessed 13 November 2015].

‘Plate 28: Grosvenor Square’, in Survey of London: Volume 40, the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings), ed. F H W Sheppard (London, 1980), [accessed 16 November 2015].

“The Proceedings of the Old Bailey.” Results. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

“Victorian Google Maps Engine.” Google Maps Engine: Map View. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.