Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who Wrote the FIRST Mystery Novel?

Check this out. An interesting piece in today's N.Y. Times re: Who Wrote the First Detective Novel? The article is actually titled: The Case of the First Mystery Novel. I'd always thought it was Wilkie Collins with The Moonstone, but it turns out that it was yet, someone else. Technically, the first detective novel appears to have been: The serialized 8 part novel, The Notting Hill Mystery by anonymous. This debuted in Once A Week magazine beginning in November of 1862.

And since there are few secrets online, the author is no longer anonymous. Read the piece and find out who wrote the first detective mystery novel. Not Wilkie Collins, not Conan Doyle, not even Edgar Allan Poe.


  1. Fascinating. And a terrific mystery story unto itself.

  2. WOW!! thanks for this interesting mystery!! Judy

  3. Jacqueline: Yup. A 'real' mystery. I'd always thought it was Wilkie Collins. Who knew?

  4. Judy: You're welcome, m'dear. Glad you enjoyed reading it. :)

  5. I have the Wilkie Collins books. I tried reading it last year but couldn't get into it. I'm going to try again this year of the Vintage Mystery Challenge.

  6. BRando? OMG O'toole was the only one that could have played that role. Now Tom Selleck, he is sooo gorgeous,I could see him in Ford's place.
    Stanwyck could do it all. where Crawford could't
    dance, she was not graceful dancing, but a great dramatic actress.
    I saw and spoke to George Raft at the race track in Florida, he was a sharp dresser.
    You Know an actor called Geo. Kennedy? Well he could have done Patton, better than Steiger or Mitchum.
    Did you see Albert Fenny in the Gathering Storm, he played Churchill, terrific .

  7. Thanks for linking to such an interesting piece. Is the novel available for download?

  8. Ryan: I'm reading Wilkie Collins WOMAN IN WHITE this year for my Victorian Reading Challenge. Hoping I'll get through it. ;) Hey, I didn't think that it might also qualify for the Vintage Mystery Challenge as well. Good thinking.

  9. neer: You're welcome, glad you liked it. I don't know if the novel is available, but you might try the Project Gutenberg site. They have a lot of free downloads of old classics and such. Good luck!

  10. Petite Gallery: I know, I know, it boggles the mind! I told you my jaw was dropping!

    Yes, George Kennedy could have done PATTON. But I love George C. Scott in anything, so I was happy with him in the part. Too bad he saw fit to refuse the Oscar. I never did understand that. Oh well, to each his own.

    Crawford was great in MILDRED PIERCE, though.

    I've still got to watch THE GATHERING STORM, been meaning to see it...

  11. Two days after Collins' article appeared all available copies of The Notting Hill Mystery being offered on the internet were sold! And apparently there is a print on demand copy offered at amazon.com though that seems to be fairly recent. It wasn't available in November 2010 when I had checked prior to my attempt at selling my copy on eBay. No one bought it. Good thing! Because...

    Three weeks before the article appeared in the NY Times a critical essay of The Notting Hill Mystery appeared at Mystery*File by...uh..yours truly. It goes into much greater detail about the story than Collins' article did.

    The weekend that this article came out was one of the most exciting in my writing career. It was a minor sensation in the literary historian and mystery novel collecting worlds. We were emailing all over the place about it. But the truth is - it IS NOT the first detective novel at all! Read this follow-up. There is always a danger in trying to prove that anything is the first. Such is the life of a literary critic.

  12. John: I figured the sell-out (or sell-off) would happen, just not all THAT quickly. I forgot about the power of the internet. Jeez. You scooped the NY Times, John! Congrats. I'm going to read the follow-up soon as I have a moment to concentrate. Thanks for posting the link. The more things change...etc.


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