Victorian Era Detective Stories

Take a quick glance at the famous Victorian era detective stories.

I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that I am talking about an era where there was stiff competition for all time favourite Sherlock Holmes. Know more on how he survived in the race for survival of the fittest.

Victorian ghost story
A ghostly 19th-century story illustration by FS Coburn.(Guardian)

Before the Victorian era crime literature was published which unveiled unending mysteries. But a criminal was portrayed as a hero in such crime stories. The words were powerful and the story was so touching so as to influence the society. As time passed by the readers of criminal writing sympathetically looked at the criminals.

The attitude among such readers gave rise to controversies and debates. Claims were made that the criminals were exploited so far and instigated by such provocations juvenile criminals were born in the society.

The anxiety after anticipating the dire consequences of criminal fiction which sympathized with the criminals and thieves paved the way for a change in the representation of narrating crime stories. There were suspense and mystery in the new form but the hero was a detective!

There was a sudden shift in focus and stories of brave and intelligent detectives who captured the cruel criminals were told. So in the nineteenth century when a new era of a literature of detection was published it soon attracted attention and entered the category of world’s bestsellers within no time.

The Victorian era detectives were created as a result of the work of overseas practitioners. The notable detectives of the victorian era are Auguste Dupin a creation of Edgar Allan Poe often considered as the predecessor of Sherlock Homes, Charles Dickens’ Inspector Bucket in Bleak House, the female detective Veleria Woodwille etc.

The powers of detection of these detectives captured the hearts of readers. Soon it became a necessity that detectives were to be present to outsmart the criminals. I can also assure that the criminals of the Victorian era were also quite interesting. Changing the image of the criminal- hero into a villain was quite a challenging task for the Victorian detective story writers.

Victorian detective stories were not just about murder, the elements of robbery, theft, fraud made them sound more real. Reginald Barrett’s Police Sergeant, The mystery of a Hansom Cab, Hugh Greenes, The rival of Sherlock Holmes, The Strand by George Newne’s, Adventures from the diary of a Doctor featuring Dr Halifax, Unknown weapon by Andrew Foster, The Big Bow Mystery of Israel Zangwill and My Lady’s money by Wilkie Collins are some of the popular Victorian era detective stories. They are mysterious as how they are titled.

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