Sherlock is back, and the game’s afoot! This time he’s aided by the Baker Street Irregulars, a group of scrappy, young street urchins who gather intelligence for Holmes as he solves cases. Billy, Charlie, Tom, and their cat, nicknamed Watson, form the Baker Street Four, who work together to eliminate London’s most nefarious criminals.
We’re taking an in-depth look to give you the rundown on some of the more prominent and intriguing female characters in the comic and how they relate to the main characters.
Right from the start, The Baker Street Four portrays the gritty reality of the slums of London. One of the first female characters that you encounter is the mistress of the Blue Curtain, a brothel where Betty, Tom’s crush, is taken. The mistress is able to grease the palms of the local police force, allowing her to keep the brothel running without getting caught by Scotland Yard. She is a shrewd businesswoman who takes care of her girls and gives them a home, while also making sure that they remain in her debt. We find out that the mistress actually raised Betty after she was orphaned, and the mistress attempts to ensnare her into a life of prostitution. All around, the character of the brothel mistress adds a sobering and sinister note to the world of The Baker Street Four.
Like the mistress of the Blue Curtain, Sally Morley helps to demonstrate the struggles of the time period. Sally is one of the local drunks—the Baker Street Four can always find her guzzling gin at an East End pub named the Three Hounds. She’s always wearing tattered clothes, and she has barely enough money for her next drink. However, even though she is poorer than most, she still lends help to the Baker Street Irregulars.
Later on in the second chapter, you meet Katya Ivanóvka. Katya is a Russian immigrant who takes refuge in London from the Okhrána, the Russian secret police. She’s much more independent than most women of her time, and whip smart as well. Not only is Katya an active member of the Russian Socialist Party, she is also a member of the early European women’s liberation movement. She befriends the Baker Street team while searching for Sherlock Holmes, a man who she believes can help find her missing partner, Viktor. It’s safe to say that Katya stands out among the rest of the female characters in Baker Street. Maybe someone with Katya’s temperament might have been lesser-known during the 1800s, but the inclusion of her character gives the story depth and a more well-rounded feel.
Overall, the female characters in The Baker Street Four come from various walks of life. The brothel mistress and Sally Morley help reveal the dirty underbelly of London’s East End in the time of Sherlock Holmes. They illustrate a setting in which prostitution is overlooked by the police, alcoholism is common, and street children are hard up on finding allies. Still, there are those like Katya who show that, in spite of the era, it’s possible to find women who are ahead of their time.