The British Library is fast becoming a force in classic crime fiction. Last year saw them resurrecting two milestone books. The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams was first identified as the earliest crime novel by Julian Symons (I think). Andrew Forrester’s The Female Detective (1864) featured the first woman detective in print.
I picked up their 2013 catalogue at the London Book Fair today, and it looks like they’re continuing their services to crime fiction.
William Stephens Hayward’s Revelations of a Lady Detective came out just 6 months after Forrester’s book. Mrs Paschal sounds like a Victorian Modesty Blaise, smoking on the very handsome front cover and carrying a Colt revolver.
Leonard Merrick’s first novel Mr Bazalgette’s Agent features the next lady detective in print, Miriam Lea, dating from 1888.
Merrick himself hated the book:
It’s a terrible book. It’s the worst thing I ever wrote. I bought them all up and destroyed them.
Only a handful survived, but crime fans will be able to judge for themselves when the BL’s version arrives in September.
Probably also of interest to classic crime types is From the Penny Dreadful to the Ha’penny Dreadfuller, a history of boys’ periodicals from 1762 to 1950. Yaroo!
And finally, for Christmas 2013 comes the brilliantly covered (but you’ll have to wait, as I can’t find it online) The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay. This is the first appearance of this title since its 1936 debut and is a ‘classic country-house mystery’.
See http://publishing.bl.uk/ for more details.