There is a very good chance that you have heard of the popular fictional Victorian detective Sherlock Holmes, who first appeared in A Study in Scarlet in 1887.
Did you know that detective novels were becoming popular nearly thirty years before Holmes' debut?
The Lady Detective is an example of an early detective novel, and this is an illustration from the book. The heroine is a Mrs Gladden, whose deductive skills are on a par with Sherlock's. You can explore the book, and read the first 11 pages with the British Library.
Her methods are similar too: she examines crime scenes, looking for clues and employing all manner of skill, subterfuge, observation and charm to solve the mystery.
Like Sherlock, Gladden doesn't think much of the Victorian Police.
Things to think about...
If you look at the picture, you can see the Mrs Gladden is smoking. In the Victorian period, smoking was usually a man's habit, so what can Mrs Gladden's behaviour suggest about her character?
Detective stories are still popular today, have you ever read one? Why not try writing one of you own, you could use Mrs Gladden as inspiration.
- The Lady Detective (1864) was one of the many detective novels popular from the 1860s onwards.
- There is a very good chance that you have heard of the popular fictional Victorian detective Sherlock Holmes, who first appeared in A Study in Scarlet in 1887.