My brain is tingling

Hello, hello! My friend, Colette Colligan, is a terrifyingly smart person who pops into my life every now and again with something that completely changes my view of the nineteenth century. Those of you who’ve read A Spy in the House will probably remember a scene that pays homage to Colette’s doctoral thesis on Obscenity and Empire (her thesis was later published as The Traffic in Obscenity from Byron to Beardsley).

Her most recent email casually mentioned that there’s a book called The Female Detective. Published in 1864. I know, I know! Bookfinder.com has come up with nothing, which is both shocking and a fantastic challenge. In the meantime, I’m going to borrow Joseph A. Kestner’s Sherlock’s Sisters: The British Female Detective, 1864-1913 for an overview.

This is the thing with research: it never ends. It’s infuriating and alarming (what did I miss, that I really should have known about?) but also a wonderful and constant reminder of how much there still is to learn. And I adore that.

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6 Responses to “My brain is tingling”

  1. Sarah G. says:

    This is intriguing! And I looked it up on WorldCat, and here’s what I found: you can read a reprint facsimile in the book THE FIRST FEMALE DETECTIVES: The female detective (1864) and Revelations of a lady detective (1864)

  2. Sarah G. says:

    Ahh, sorry, somehow I pressed enter without meaning to. That was supposed to continue by giving the pub info: Ed. Dagni Bredesen. Ann Arbor, Mich: Scholars’ Facsimiles & Reprints, 2010. The University of Torono Robart’s library has a copy, as do many other universities.

    I also see books like HELEN ELWOOD, THE FEMALE DETECTIVE; OR, A CELEBRATED FORGER’S TALE (Chicago, 1885) and THE FEMALE DETECTIVE, OR, THE MOTHER’S DYING CHILD – AN ORIGINAL DRAMA IN THREE ACTS (New York, 1870-79?).

  3. Ying says:

    Thanks for doing my ILL research for me, Sarah G. :D I’d actually found Bredesen’s book, but was dithering about the ILL fees. Also, I initially wondered if THE LADY DETECTIVE would be satirical or parodic, but the other titles you mention sound more like sensation/melodrama. Encouraging!

  4. jilly says:

    cool

  5. gloria says:

    Colette was one of my fav English profs at SFU!!!

  6. Ying says:

    I’m so glad! She is pure awesomeness.

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