Detective Fiction

Anne Humpherys

in Victorian Literature

ISBN: 9780199799558
Published online March 2011 | | DOI:
Detective Fiction

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The standard history of Victorian detective fiction (in which a detective works to solve a specific crime or mystery) starts with Edgar Allan Poe’s three Dupin stories (1841–1846), followed by the detectives of Charles Dickens (Bucket in Bleak House [1852–1853]) and Wilkie Collins (Cuff in The Moonstone [1868]) and culminating in the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet in 1887. These texts and writers were for the most part the only ones subjected to critical study. Sometimes early histories of detective history would briefly mention other English precursors to Sherlock Holmes, including William Godwin, Things as They Are, or Caleb Williams (1794); the Newgate Calendar (1774), Thomas Gaspey, Richmond: Scenes from the Life of a Bow Street Runner (1827); or William Russell, Recollections of a Detective Police-Officer, by “Waters” (1856). Since the 1990s, however, following on the increased interest in popular culture and the recovery of texts by women writers, attention has grown to other writers of detective fiction, either earlier or contemporary with the Sherlock Holmes stories though many critical works still treat only the Sherlock Holmes stories. Much of 19th-century detective fiction was published in periodicals, the form of Victorian detective fiction being primarily the short story, though there were a handful of novels and novellas. The genre of detective fiction novels as it came down into the early 20th century was essentially established in the last decade of the 19th century.

Article.  6289 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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