“It’s no wonder my uncle felt as if trouble were coming on him in such a place as this… It’s enough to scare any man. I’ll have a row of electric lamps up here inside of six months, and you won’t know it again with a thousand-candle-power Swan and Edison right here in front of the hall door.” (Hound of the Baskervilles, p 58)
These lines, spoken By Henry Baskerville, are the man’s immediate reaction to the near-desolate Baskerville manor. The mention of installing lamps, no matter how brief, presents a reference of setting and time for the novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles. This novel is the third of the crime novels written by Arthur Conan Doyle, Originally serialized in a magazine from August 1901 to April 1902. This puts the novel firmly post development of the lightbulb, arguably one of the most influential technological breakthroughs of its time. Despite this, the lightbulb, or in-house electricity was not cheap enough to be widely available across the classes until the 1910s – after the novel takes place. This means that Sir Henry had considerable privilege. Associating lack of electrical lighting, or general technological advances, with a depressing or bleak lifestyle describes Sir Henry’s view of wealth, in my opinion. Those who have money are more fulfilled than those who do not. The comment also brings in the Victorian trope of the archaic; references to a time when the advantages of the “present” were not available. Sir Henry seems to be a man firmly planted in his time period, who evaluates wealth and technology as necessary stones to lead a life worth living.