Before Sherlock Holmes

How Magazines and Newspapers Invented the Detective Story


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About the Book

Traditionally, the history of detective stories as a literary genre begins in the 19th century with the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Émile Gaboriau and a handful of other writers. The 19th century was actually awash in detective stories, though many, like the so-called detective notebooks, are so rare that they lay beyond the reach of even the most dedicated readers. This volume surveys the first 50 years of the detective story in 19th century America and England, examining not only major works, but also the lesser known—including contemporary pseudo-biographies, magazines, story papers, and newspapers—only recently accessible through new media. By rewriting the history of the mystery genre, this study opens up new avenues for literary exploration.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

LeRoy Lad Panek, professor emeritus of English at McDaniel College (and “One of the most readable, prolific, and perceptive academic scholars of mystery fiction”—Mystery Scene), is the author of a number of books about detective fiction. He lives in Westminster, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

LeRoy Lad Panek
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 227
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6787-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8856-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

1. Life Before Detectives      7
2. Edgar Allan Poe      38
3. Notebooks      58
4. Charles Dickens      89
5. Collins and the Sensation Novel      109
6. Magazines and Family Story Papers      144
7. Newspaper Detectives      170

Selected Bibliography      199
Index      209

Book Reviews & Awards

“this is a truly original volume with an unusual premise…this book is a must for those with a serious interest in detective fiction. Highly recommended”—Choice; “his research will revise, and enrich, all our thinking about the history of the detective story”—The Washington Post; ““one of the most readable, prolific, and perceptive academic scholars of mystery fiction…few academic mystery scholars are as readable and learned and surely none is as prolific as Panek…indispensable”—Mystery Scene.