I may have walked past this plaque a dozen times and only last night did I read it. And promptly flew clean off the handle with glee.
It’s not 221B, which I’m led to understand never existed as a real location—Baker Street not reaching that far at the time Conan Doyle was writing. But it’s certainly as moody and elegant and right as you’d want it to be, isn’t it?
For those who wish to wander by the spot, the address is 2 Upper Wimpole Street, and the name was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Norma Shearer’s portrayal of Elizabeth Barrett in “The Barretts of Wimpole Street” (1934) marked her fourth of six Oscar nominations. The audience, the critics and her co-stars loved her performance. The New York Times found her “touching”:
“She is successful in creating the illusion of a highly sensitive and delicate woman who beats her luminous wings in vain against the chains which bind her.”
This mediocre photo was snapped in July 1997, the very first time I’d ever been to England, let alone London and was ecstatically tracing some of The Beatles’ footsteps. When I reached Green Street in Mayfair, I was greeted by this unfortunate sight, and so teenage me had no choice but to take the photo of 57 Green Street anyway.
57 Green Street, Flat L, fourth floor, is the apartment shared, at one time, by all four Beatles when they first moved to London from Liverpool. The address was of course kept a secret, but Beatlemaniacs found it out somehow and a nearly twenty-four hour, seven days a week vigilant present was started outside this front door. What has remained a secret - according to the authors of the excellent guide The Beatles’ London - are the actual dates during which the band lived here.
“They moved in during the early autumn of 1963 (between 1 and 15 September, probably). Paul and John left by the end of November - Paul moving in with the Asher family in Wimpole Street and John joining Cynthia and baby Julian at their own flat in Emperors Gate. George and Ringo then moved temporarily to flat I on the third floor but the fans outside remained a nuisance to the other tenants. At the request of the landlady Mrs. Thorogood, George and Ringo moved out soon after returning from the Beatles’ first trip to the USA in February of 1964.”
George and Ringo then moved to Whaddon House, in the private Williams Mews, Knighsbridge - flat 7, and later for a brief time flats 5 and 6. This was also for a time shared by Pattie Boyd, before she and George moved to Kinfauns. According to The Beatles’ London, the Whaddon House flat was subject to a burglary on 19 April 1964: “Little was taken - a pair of cuff-links, some souvenirs from their February visit to America, and cash - but both Beatles were required to formally report the theft, which they did by visiting the police station in nearby Gerald Road.” Williams Mews was also a photo location for The Beatles Book on 11 July 1964, with George and his new car.
In the authorized biography, this is mentioned:
“[After seeing The Beatles at the Royal Albert Hall on 18 April 1963 while critiquing the bands for the Radio Times] The Beatle she liked the look of most, when she caught sight of them in the corridors afterwards, was George.”
Then there are stories about John making Jane cry with something he asked her when they all met up at a friend’s apartment after the show… Here’s what allegedly happened: