Selby Royal, Nottinghamshire – Dorian’s Country Home

Daniela Velez

Prof. Swafford

ENG 493-02

Final Project, Location: Selby Royal

“Are they true? Can they be true? When I first heard them, I laughed. I hear them now, and they make me shudder. What about your country-house and the life that is led there? Dorian, you don’t know what is said about you.”

-Basil Hallward to Dorian Gray in Chapter XI, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Nottinghamshire, Nottingham Castle 1900's
This is not Selby Royal (which is fictional) but Nottingham Castle in Nottinghamshire in the 1900s.


Nottinghamshire – being in the country, not in the city- is excluded from the Charles Booth Online Archive. There is not even a mention of Nottinghamshire in the index of subjects, places, people, and institutions mentioned in the survey. This mirrors the location’s importance in the story. While away in the countryside, the wealthy and the privileged elite are physically far away from the public’s scrutiny but they cannot completely escape it.

Nottinghamshire is far out of the area that Victorian Google Maps covers, but it is helpful to see how far away Nottinghamshire is from London.
Nottinghamshire is far out of the area that Victorian Google Maps covers, but it is helpful to see how far away Nottinghamshire is from London.

Although Basil hears rumors of Dorian’s “country-house and the life that is led there,” there is no evidence of the events that occur, besides Dorian’s somewhat tarnished reputation, which he cares little for. Selby Royal is foreshadowed by Basil’s interrogation of Dorian in the chapter preceding his violent murder and the convenient accidental death that takes place at Selby Royal after it. Before readers see or experience Dorian’s country home, it already has a negative connotation. When James Vane is killed this only solidifies Selby Royal as a location where Dorian lives with little regard to the consequences of his actions.

A week later Dorian Gray was sitting in the conservatory at Selby Royal, talking to the pretty Duchess of Monmouth, who with her husband, a jaded-looking man of sixty, was amongst his guests.

-Chapter XVII, The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Accessed through the British History Online Archive, Robert Thoroton’s History of Nottinghamshire documents the parishes and churches in the area. Published in 1796, the source can be considered far removed from the time period in which The Picture of Dorian Gray takes place, but it is still useful in understanding the history the countryside would have been associated with in the minds of Victorian readers. A

majority of the images archived online feature in Thorton’s volumes are images of the numerous churches in Nottinghamshire. As we know from our study of the Victorian Era, religion and piety were of the utmost importance in society, but the images of these churches were captured prior to this time period which began in the early 1800s. As modern readers we can speculate whether or not the religious history of Nottinghamshire had some influence on Wilde’s decision to place Dorian’s fictional country manor there.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 7.10.03 PMA search of the Proceedings of the Old Bailey turns up only one crime that took place in Nottinghamshire, the theft of a horse. This may remind readers of Dorian Gray riding off on his mare to the stables to see the body of James Vane. Nottinghamshire does come up in other cases a total of twenty nine times but the area is usually mentioned in a positive light. For example, one ordinary’s testimony states “That he was born of good Parents, at Leeks in Nottinghamshire.” Therefore, we can conclude that Nottinghamshire would have been associated with a very peaceful and crime free, almost utopian, country parish. I would compare this to the way many residents of New York City view the Hudson Valley area. By setting up this country home as a topic of gossip and controversy, Wilde is undermining his Victorian audience’s perspective of the area. This gives the impression that danger, crime, and sin are not isolated to a location like the East End. In Wilde’s novel, Selby Royal is both the grand estate associated with the wealthy upper classes and a mansion of improprieties and sins that are implied and spoken about, but never directly addressed.

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. 01 Dec. 2015.

“The Proceedings of the Old Bailey.” Results: Nottinghamshire. Old Bailey Online, n.d. Web. 01 Dec.2015.

Robert Thoroton, ‘Plate 3: Views of several churches’, in Thoroton’s History of Nottinghamshire: Volume 1, Republished With Large Additions By John Throsby, ed. John Throsby (Nottingham,       1790), p. 3 [accessed 1 December  2015].

Wilde, Oscar, and Camille Cauti. The Picture of Dorian Gray. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics,  2004. Print.

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.

Irene Adler on Edgware Road

Daniela Velez

Prof. Swafford

ENG 493-02

19 October 2015

Mr. & Mrs. Norton on Edgware Road


            In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story “A Scandal in Bohemia,” detective Sherlock Holmes is bested by none other than Irene Adler, also referred to as ‘The Woman.’ Towards the end of the tale, Mr. Holmes finds himself swept up in Irene’s shotgun wedding to Mr. Godfrey Norton at the Church of Saint Monica, and becomes a key witness to the legality of their vows due to his ‘lucky appearance’ (9).

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Edgware road was difficult to locate on Victorian Google Maps all that my search result turned up was an image of Edgware Road Station, which is obviously on Edgware Road though the actual name of the street itself does not appear. However, the road does appear on the Charles Booth Online Archive. A majority of the area appears to be middle class/ well to do. This adds to the overall theme of the story, which alludes to class distinctions in not only Victorian London, but the modern world at the time – hence, the prestigious King of Bohemia’s affair with Alder that must be kept hidden even though it occurred years earlier.

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A quick but narrowed search (the years 1881-1901 because that is when Sherlock & Dr. Watson’s adventures on Baker Street took place according to the stories)through the Proceedings of the Old Bailey produced a vibrant array of offenses from coining offenses to murder associated with Edgware Road. The Charles Booth Archive image did show some areas of blue which represents (Lower Class/Poor residents) and little areas of yellow (Upper Class). I believe that the variety of crimes and the sheer number of them could indicate a clash of classes due to wealth inequality, but that is only speculation.

London Bridge in “A Lost Masterpiece”


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The bridges of London are crossroads of international commerce and markets but they are also a place for crime especially during the Victorian Era. There was everything from pocket picking to assaults. One case I found in the Old Bailey Proceedings that occurred in the summer of 1894 documents a case in which a bargeman pulled a gun and fired at a group of boys that were noted to have been seen throwing stones at boats from the London Bridge (. Not much else is noted about the individual who was injured and brought charges against the bargeman but modern readers can almost picture such a bustling waterway full of commerce and life but also conflict.



London Bridge was an especially busy place with a very rich history. In Old and New London¸ writer Walter Thornbury states that London Bridge “was a battle-field and a place of religious worship, a resort of traders and a show-place for traitors’ heads.” During the Tudor reign, it was regularly used to showcase the heads of those convicted of treason. It has a dark history its transformation into one of the main trade centers in London makes it a perfect place to examine in the context of “A Lost Masterpiece.” London was still advancing technologically and socially before the turn of the century when this short story takes place. The movement of time as well as modern movement is important to understand Victorian texts.

The narrator in “A Lost Masterpiece,” states that she “boarded a river steamer bound for London Bridge.” There is a theme of social mobility present in London society at this time which is why so many people came in from the countryside for the opportunities London had. The narrator herself establishes this by stating she had come in from the countryside because she was bored with life there and missed the excitement of London and all the inspiring material it presented for her literary endeavors. Physical mobility is also represented by the steamer the narrator boards at Chelsea and London Bridge. The travel from West to East along the Thames could be a symbol for the migration of individuals from the country to the city. It also represents the movement occurring within London itself, which the narrator observes as she simultaneously acknowledges her role in the scheme of things. She declares, “I was simply an interested spectator of a varied panorama.” As the keen observer, she is capturing images of several different kinds of Londoners as she herself becomes part of this inner city movement. The language she uses to describe her thoughts are also tied to movement, she is “touching a hundred vagrant things with the magic of imagination, making a running comment on the scenes we passed.” By transitioning to using the word ‘we’ instead of the word ‘I’ as she frequently does in the beginning, the narrator has moved from an outsider in London to part of the London dwellers she describes. Additionally, she describes her thoughts as ‘running’, which further reinforces the theme of movement.






Works Cited

Egerton, George. “A Lost Masterpiece.” The Yellow Nineties Online. The Yellow Nineties Online, n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2015.

Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 7.2, 05 September 2015),   July 1894, trial of WILLIAM BAVINGTON (50) (t18940723-626).

Walter Thornbury, ‘London Bridge’, in Old and New London: Volume 2 (London, 1878), pp. 9-17 [accessed 1 September 2015].

“Victorian Google Maps.” Victorian Google Maps. Google, n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2015.

Working Women in Victorian London

The Victorian London Dictionary site is an incredibly addicting resource. Before I settled on my topic, I found myself skimming through a ton of interesting and engaging material. I was particularly interested in the roles of women during this era of rapid progress. I stumbled upon an article defining and examining the lives of working girls. The term ‘City-Work Girls’ strikes me as patronizing because I am a modern reader, but overall I consider this article quite contemporary in its depiction of women considering the time period.

There were several aspects of this article I found to be important to our understanding of Victorian Literature and the physical makeup of London. . The author begins by educating the reader about how important working girls are to the economic well being of London. Over one hundred trades would have ceased to be profitable or would cease to exist, without working girls. That is a pretty powerful statement. While I did know women worked as book binders during this time, I had no idea they held positions making surgical instruments or spectacles. The various job titles the article highlights seem so romantic to me. I am sure it caused a ton of migraines but working as a ‘perfumer’ sounds so lovely. What impressed me the most about this article was that even though women had only begun to spread out and occupy such jobs, there was an interest in unionizing and equal pay. Early on the narrator states that these girls are, “forming Trade Unions and making friends with workers of the other sex, who begin to think that if the work is the same, the pay should be equal.” I couldn’t believe this was written in 1889! There is even contact information for girls who wish to unionize or learn more about it.

The City-Work Girls article is not really about native London girls, but focuses more on the country girls who the author says, “daily flock into our Modern Babylon from small towns and country villages.” Due to their lack of familial support and experience, most employers refuse to hire them or only employ them temporarily. This discrimination by geographical origin is something that reminded me of the division between North and South London, yet it takes place within North London through the divides between native Londoners and country girls. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice came to mind when I envisioned these young country girls.

The article transitions into the dangers these girls face in London. The term ‘slack time’ gets thrown around a lot and is used to describe the lay off period that plunges these City-Work Girls into what appears to either resemble modern dating or is a higher form of prostitution. There is a subterranean society in London in which, “The girls fall into no trap, for the men help to eke out their wages, and add to the brightness of their lives by tickets for theatres, visits to music-halls, novelettes, and gifts of jewellery and dresses.” The article goes as far as to document and relay to its readers a sting operation of sorts in which they sent a commissioner into a tenement house that regularly houses these City-Work Girls! I thought that was hilarious. The commissioner witnessed the girls spending nights with their sweethearts and going out with them on dates. The article gives his account of two girls who “received money and presents from these young men, besides being treated by them to places of entertainment and to outings.” The article also notes that this particular housing establishment “is especially recommended by the clergy of the district.” I found this article to be entertaining. It almost reads like Cosmopolitan Magazine. A the same time it indicates what I perceive to be some early attempts to examine or perhaps even erode, the Madonna/Whore complex because these girls are describe as girls you would encounter everyday. It states, “This hidden trade has recruits among all classes of young women in London, from the pretty, neatly dressed little governess who trips into the precincts of the Law Courts on Saturday night, to the flower-girl who would swear until black in the face if she heard herself accused of anything so nefarious.” I can’t imagine finding a more controversial article but I really hope I do this semester.



Daniela Velez


Hey everyone, My name is Daniela Velez and this is my senior year. I am an English major with a concentration in Creative Writing. I was on track to study abroad at Middlesex this semester so taking this class is sort of bittersweet, but I don’t really regret it because I would’ve been crying over my loan debt after graduation. I’ve always been a little obsessed with London because I love the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde’s A Picture of Dorian Gray. Most of what I know about Victorian London comes from fiction I’ve read and classes I’ve taken surrounding the economic aspects of industrialization and the social/cultural consequences of it.

Robinson accurately described the attitude taken towards these consequences. He states, “The grinding poverty of Dickensian London was real and vicious, yet in many ways the city was improving.” In general it was improving – much like technology in the twenty first century has improved our lives – yet it was only benefiting the upper classes and wealth seems to always be built on the backs of the lower and middle class. I have a feeling repetition throughout history will be a prevalent theme this semester. I was surprised to learn about the development of government and public works, like the establishing of parks, museums, and slum clearance. However, this occurred in the 1850s but, “south London was smelly and – with its prisons, asylums and dodgy taverns – it had a bit of a reputation,” since the 1700s.



Works Cited

Robinson, Bruce. “London: ‘A Modern Babylon’” BBC News. BBC, 11 Feb. 2011. Web. 25 Aug. 2015.