Serendipity (or not)

So, one of the things I’m doing at the last minute is trying to place my novella heroine on a Regency-era map.  I know that she her father owns a circulating library.  When I started my novella, I figured out the basics of how circulating libraries worked and then left some of the details–like, how much money could a circulating library expect to make in a day?–as a question-mark to be filled in later.

Of course, now it’s later and I’m looking for details.  In any event, I also figured I should find out whether there were a great many of them (answer: yes, by then) and where they were situated.  The answer is: most of them are in very nice parts of town.  The problem is that my hero needs to be somewhat local to the library, and my hero is not going to be living on Harley Street or its environs.

Then I found this lovely list.  I looked up all those addresses.  Most of them wouldn’t do.  But there’s one that’s right off Chancery Lane (where my hero works) and Chancery Lane is adjacent to several areas of London that fall into the “fairly dodgy” spectrum.  Perfect!

But it gets better.  Last time I was in London, I visited Chancery Lane because the book I was writing then had a few scenes set on Chancery Lane.  In fact, it so happened that right after we turned off of it, I saw a tiny bookstore that said they’d been in business since 1830.  1830!  Perfect.  I dragged Mr. Milan inside.  When I first saw the location of  314 High Holborn on the incredibly detailed Horwood map of London, I nearly died.  It was exactly where I remembered that little shop.  Oh, Serendipity!  I know what that shop looks like inside.  I know how narrow the rooms are.  I know there’s a teeny tiny rickety staircase in the back, where even I had to duck my head not to hit it on the way down to the basement of books.

It turns out, it was my abysmal sense of direction rather than any actual serendipity.  I pulled up my pictures from the trip (yes, I took pictures!) and discovered that the little shop I went into was actually 16 Fleet Street.  The wrong end of Chancery Lane.  Drat!

5 thoughts on “Serendipity (or not)

  1. That’s really interesting, actually. I love doing research for my books. Currently I’m learning about Nikolaos of Myra–but I have yet to make my way to Turkey! That’s great what happened… and hey, even if it’s not the exact same place, it’s still a good idea of what to expect 🙂

  2. off topic, but still:

    “I show my appreciation by jumping up and down on other viewpoints, trampoline style, to see what survives, rather than handling them like unique and delicate flowers.”


  3. The one time I was in England, I did absolutely zero that helped my life in any way. But when I go back this summer, I intend to make the most of it. Maybe I’ll end up with photos of the same little bookstore!!

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