Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Return of Miss Cayley.

A new edition of Miss Cayley's Adventureswritten by Grant Allen and introduced by meis now available from Kansas City's Valancourt Books. It has not been in print since 1902.

Miss Lois Cayley, an early female detective, debuted in the Strand in 1898 and appeared in book form in 1899. A model of the New Woman, she travels around the world thwarting con men, solving mysteries, rescuing people in trouble, and scaling mountains with aplomb. The Canadian-born Allen, best known for the controversy surrounding his New Woman novel The Woman Who Did (1895) and his marked influence on H. G. Wells, also wrote sci fi, mystery, and paranormal works that include An African Millionaire, "The Great Ruby Robbery," "Palinghurst Barrow," and What's Bred in the Bone. His friend and neighbor Arthur Conan Doyle completed Hilda Wade, Allen's work featuring another female detective, per Allen's deathbed request. Allen died in October 1899.

As I am very concerned with mystery history, particularly the scarcity of affordable works featuring nineteenth- and early-twentieth- century female detectives, I was eager to see Miss Cayley's Adventures back in print. I'm glad it's now part of Valancourt's offerings of 1890s fiction.

About the illustration: "I am going out, simply in search of adventure." Illustration by Gordon Browne for Miss Cayley's Adventures, by Grant Allen. New York: Putnam, 1899. Introd. Elizabeth Foxwell. Kansas City: Valancourt, 2008.

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