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Title: The lady vanishes : women writers and the development of detective fiction
Author: Smillie, Rachel Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 5360 5433
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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The history of detective fiction has frequently centred on three key figures: Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins and Arthur Conan Doyle. These writers hold a privileged place in the canon of detective fiction and represent key sites in a linear narrative of development which has often overlooked the complexity and variability of the detective genre. This dissertation explores the disappearance of female writers from the critical history of detective fiction. Focusing on the mystery and detective narratives of Mary Elizabeth Braddon, LT Meade, Baroness Emmuska Orczy and CL Pirkis, this project aims to restore these overlooked authors to critical view. As this dissertation will argue, the erasure of these writers (among others) from critical histories of detective fiction has led to studies of the genre being based on a limited data set. This unstable foundation has resulted in a number of problematic assumptions about the nascent detective genre; namely, that it is conservative, prescriptive and phallocentric. By exploring the work of overlooked and forgotten writers, this project aims to explore the paradigms which have governed their disappearance; at the same time, this dissertation will examine established critical models and interrogate entrenched assumptions and approaches to detective fiction. Chapter one explores the figure of the female servant as household spy in Braddon's novels and considers her role in opposition to Braddon's male detectives. Chapter two focuses on the collaboratively-authored crime fiction of LT Meade; in particular, it addresses the battle for narrative agency and control which occurs in her texts and examines the breakdown of gender and genre roles. Chapter three considers Orczy's work in the context of the anxiety of the author and explores the potentially restrictive nature of genre fiction. Finally, chapter four addresses CL Pirkis's detective fiction alongside her work in other genres and uses these texts to interrogate traditional models of detective fiction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: College of Arts and Social Sciences ; University of Aberdeen ; Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Detective and mystery stories ; English ; English fiction