SUNDERLAND student Caitlin Wilson is helping to save a piece of literary history.
Caitlin, who is studying English and Creative Writing, is Sunderland’s ambassador for the Undershaw Preservation Society, established to protect the house where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes.
Owner Fossway wants to split the house, in Hindhead, Surrey, into three terraced houses, divided by solid block walls. A judicial review of the proposals begins on Wednesday.
Famous names opposing the plan include Stephen Fry and BBC’s Sherlock co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis, who is patron of the group.
Caitlin, who is about to complete her degree at the University of Sunderland before beginning a Masters next year, said other authors’ homes had been preserved for the nation, such as Hill Top in the Lake District, the home of Beatrix Potter.
“Undershaw means a great deal to me and trying to save it means even more,” she said.
“Built for his wife Louise, it was at Undershaw that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles and many of the later Holmes stories. He also entertained other authors such as Bram Stoker, J. M. Barrie, and a young Virginia Woolf there.
“The house itself was a beautiful example of architecture, built in the late 1800s when not many houses were designed by their occupier.
“Knowing that I’m helping to save a part of England’s literary heritage, I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile with my time outside university.
“Although it seems ridiculous that we have to fight to save Undershaw in the first place, with the support of thousands of Holmesians, Doyleans and the public in general, I find it hard not to see a victory for Undershaw in the upcoming Judicial Review.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal detective has enjoyed renaissance recent years with the hugely popular BBC TV series and two Guy Ritchie films starring Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law.
Mark Gattis, said: “Having seen Undershaw for the first time, it’s a very depressing and sad experience.
“To fall into this state of disrepair is a national disgrace and we need to do everything possible to let people know that this is happening.”