American Detective Fiction

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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The Origins of Modern Detective Fiction: The British Sleuth

Although the formula for modern detective fiction was invented by the eccentric American genius Edgar Allan Poe, the sub-genre came to its perfection in the work of English writers Wilkie Collins, A. Conan Doyle, G. K. Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers, and Agatha Christie. As several literary historians have observed, these stories had their roots in the development of science during the nineteenth century, with its elevation of observation and reason as defining, ideal human characteristics. Small wonder that Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet (1887) features Dr. Watson’s being introduced to an eccentric chemist named Sherlock Holmes; their …

6548 words

Citation: Dougherty, David C.. "American Detective Fiction". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 April 2019 [, accessed 05 June 2023.]

19511 American Detective Fiction 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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