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Detection and Gender in Early Crime Fiction: Mrs Bucket to Lady Molly

Detection and Gender in Early Crime Fiction: Mrs Bucket to Lady Molly Crime fiction is often mistakenly held to be based on books and male detection. In fact, in the nineteenth century periodicals were a major mode of publication and from the mid-century on women inquirers played a recurring role in the developing genre, while most early male detectives were, by later standards, distinctly under-gendered. Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal was a major early source; by the 1860s, female detectives were being created by male writers and in Bleak House (1852–53), Dickens gave Inspector Bucket’s wife distinct inquiring capacities. The major Australian author Mary Fortune – with more than four hundred stories in magazines over forty years from the 1860s – developed female inquirers over time. By the 1890s, professional English woman detectives were created, Loveday Brooke by C.L. Pirkis and Florence Cusack by L.T. Meade, while Baroness Orczy created as well as her best-selling ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ the leading police detective Lady Molly, like the others first appearing in magazines. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Crime Fiction Studies Edinburgh University Press

Detection and Gender in Early Crime Fiction: Mrs Bucket to Lady Molly

Crime Fiction Studies , Volume 3 (2): 17 – Sep 1, 2022

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
2517-7982
eISSN
2517-7990
DOI
10.3366/cfs.2022.0068
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Crime fiction is often mistakenly held to be based on books and male detection. In fact, in the nineteenth century periodicals were a major mode of publication and from the mid-century on women inquirers played a recurring role in the developing genre, while most early male detectives were, by later standards, distinctly under-gendered. Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal was a major early source; by the 1860s, female detectives were being created by male writers and in Bleak House (1852–53), Dickens gave Inspector Bucket’s wife distinct inquiring capacities. The major Australian author Mary Fortune – with more than four hundred stories in magazines over forty years from the 1860s – developed female inquirers over time. By the 1890s, professional English woman detectives were created, Loveday Brooke by C.L. Pirkis and Florence Cusack by L.T. Meade, while Baroness Orczy created as well as her best-selling ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ the leading police detective Lady Molly, like the others first appearing in magazines.

Journal

Crime Fiction StudiesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2022

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