Our scene opens outside the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, where the “gutter snipe” Eliza Doolittle begs exquisitely dressed patrons to “buy a flower off a poor girl” as they exit the theatre on a cold March evening. Freddy Eynsford-Hill, a well-dressed young man of twenty, is attending the theatre with his mother and clumsily collides with a busker, and then stumbles into Eliza, knocking her violets into the mud. Despairing with Freddy, despite her interest in him, Eliza continues to attempt selling flowers – until a bystander warns Eliza that someone is taking down every word she is speaking. Eliza, terrified, insists that she is doing nothing wrong. The man taking dictation dismisses her objections, explaining he is not a policeman, but rather a professor of linguistics, taking dictation of her “appalling” Cockney accent: Professor Henry Higgins.
Higgins explains that he knows Eliza is from Lisson Grove, based on her accent, that another gentleman is from