1st Edition

The Nineteenth Century Periodical Press and the Development of Detective Fiction

By Samuel Saunders Copyright 2021
    256 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    256 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book re-imagines nineteenth-century detective fiction as a literary genre that was connected to, and nurtured by, contemporary periodical journalism. Whilst ‘detective fiction’ is almost universally-accepted to have originated in the nineteenth century, a variety of widely-accepted scholarly narratives of the genre’s evolution neglect to connect it with the development of a free press.

    The volume traces how police officers, detectives, criminals, and the criminal justice system were discussed in the pages of a variety of magazines and journals, and argues that this affected how the wider nineteenth-century society perceived organised law enforcement and detection. This, in turn, helped to shape detective fiction into the genre that we recognise today. The book also explores how periodicals and newspapers contained forgotten, non-canonical examples of ‘detective fiction’, and that these texts can help complicate the narrative of the genre’s evolution across the mid- to late nineteenth century.  

    List of Figures


    Introduction: Victorian Policing and Victorian Periodicals

    Part 1: Policing and Crime in Periodicals

    Chapter 1: Periodical Discourse on Policing: c. 1850-1875

    Chapter 2: ‘A Condemned Cell with a View’: Crime Journalism c. 1750-1880

    Part 2: Memoirs and Sensations

    Chapter 3: ‘"Detective" literature, if it may be so called’: The Police Officer and the Police Memoir

    Chapter 4: ‘The Romance of the Detective’: Police Memoir Fiction and Sensation Fiction

    Part 3: From Scandal to the Strand Magazine

    Chapter 5: ‘...people are naturally distrustful of its future working’: The 1877 Detective Scandal in the Victorian Mass Media

    Chapter 6: From ‘Handsaw’ to Holmes: Police Officers and Detectives in Late-Victorian Journalism




    Samuel Saunders holds a PhD in English from Liverpool John Moores University, which he obtained in 2018 after defending a thesis that examined nineteenth-century crime and detective fiction and its connections with Victorian journalism and print culture. He has published research in numerous peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Popular Culture, the Wilkie Collins Journal, Law, Crime and History, and the journal of the Open Library of the Humanities, and has co-edited a collection on sidekicks in crime fiction. Samuel has taught English at both LJMU and the Unviersity of Chester, has acted as a guest professor for the Ohio State University, and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).