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English 4108: Victorian Detective Fiction: Finding Victorian Detective Fiction

Finding Detective Fiction

While it is pretty easy to find a known work by author or title, identifying early works of detective fiction can be tricky. Only in recent years have libraries added subject and genre headings to catalog records for works of fiction. Follow these strategies for identifying works:

  • Search a library catalog, index, or bibliography by keyword--detect* (retrieves detective, detection, etc.), myster* (retrieves mystery, mysteries, mysterious, etc.). To limit to the Victorian era, limit by publication dates.
  • Consult a bibliographic guide or reference work dedicated to this topic.
    • Crime Fiction, 1749-1980: a comprehensive bibliography (Depository Z2014.F4 H82 1984)
    • 1981-1985 Supplement to Crime fiction, 1749-1980 (Z2014.F4 H82 1984 suppl.)
      NOTE: This work is not indexed or arranged by date. While the full text is not viewable in the Hathi Trust Digital Library, one may search a date in order to identify on which page the date appears.
    • A Companion to Crime Fiction (PN3448.D4 C557 2010)
    • The Oxford Companion to Crime & Mystery Writing (Ref. PN3448.D4 O94 1999)
    • British Mystery Writers, 1860-1919, vol. 70 of the Dictionary of Literary Biography (Ref. PN451.D43 70)
    • Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction (Online)
  • Search for research on this topic and examine the sources used to identify authors, works, or periodicals or publishers that specialized in this genre. Then return to the library catalogs, indexes, etc. to search for these known items.

Finding Fiction in the Serials

C19 is the most comprehensive index of 19th Century serials, but does not search the full text of periodicals. British Periodicals does search the full text of articles within journals, but lacks the detailed subject tagging that C19 has.

If you don't have a specific author or title in mind, but want to browse fiction within the serials, use the British Periodicals section within C19 and limit to content type "fiction/narrative".

If C19 does not have full text of an article, the FindIt@MU links will appear and link you to online or print copies. If we have neither, it'll link you to ILL@MU. We should be able to get copies of things we don't have via interlibrary loan. 

More Tools for Finding Short Fiction

Some works originally published in serials may appear in anthologies or collected works. To find a short work published within a larger one, try searching in Google Books, the Hathi Trust Digital Library, or use the Short Story Index to locate stories within anthologies.

See also Index to Crime and Mystery Anthologies (Z2014.F4 C58 1991)

The following bibliographies indicate additional sources:

  • British Short Fiction in the Nineteenth Century: A Literary and Bibliographic Guide
    PR861 .H35, stacks 2 East
  • A Checklist of Women Writers, 1801-1900: Fiction, Verse, Drama
    Z2013.5.W6 A48 1990, stacks 1 West

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Anne Barker
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