Victorian London Reference Desk
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I Tried To Be Witty

I am doing a fiction that eventually takes place at night in the home.

Did Victorians use candles or were oil lamps around and popular?

Also, was Sherlock Holmes rich or poor? Call me silly, but I never really understood and I need the information.

7/30/2010 #1

As far as I know, Victorians used both candles and oil lamps - oil lamps were used for general lighting in main rooms and such, but candles were still in use as a means of transportable light (like our equivalent of flashlights). As for Holmes being rich or poor, which part of the canon are you referring to? When he met Watson, he was looking for someone to split the cost of rooms with, thus signifying that he was - if not poor - than at least not very well off and certainly not rich. He stayed in the Baker Street rooms for most of his career (apart from the Haitus and possibly the WWI era and afterward), but that might have been more for sentimental reasons than monetary (also, it is noteworthy that Holmes was at one time - after 1894 - living alone in Baker Street, thus taking sole rent responsibility, making it likely that he was richer then than he was in 1881. Toward the end of his life, Holmes did buy a country cottage, something that would probably have taken an adequate amount of money to do. However, it is safe to say that he was never rich (except disputedly during his childhood), only moderately well-off throughout most of the canon, and definitely poor at times (probably mostly from 1881-1889). I hope this helps :)

7/17/2011 #2
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