Featuring History of Mystery/Detective Fiction and Other Literary Ramblings of Elizabeth Foxwell
Monday, June 19, 2017
The first hundred years of detective fiction.
Illustration from Lawrence L.
Lynch, Dangerous Ground (1885)
A valuable resource is the Lilly Library of Indiana University's online version of its 1973 exhibition "The First Hundred Years of Detective Fiction, 1841–1941," which provides a useful history of the genre through the works selected. Besides the expected items by Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle, there are works by lesser known authors such as William Russell (the rare Recollections of a Detective Police Officer, 1856–59) and Lawrence L. Lynch (pseudonym of Emma Murdock Van Deventer, 1885). Other goodies include G. K. Chesterton's sketch of Holmes and Moriarty for a never published version of Conan Doyle's "The Final Problem," a manuscript page from S. S. Van Dine's The Scarab Murder Case (1930), and Georges Simenon's first two novels. Note that the statement "It was not until eleven years later, in 1878, that the first native detective novel appeared in
Katherine [sic] Green's The Leavenworth Case" is not true, as Metta Fuller Victor is now given this distinction for her novel The Dead Letter (1866).