Feminist Detective Fiction

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Anna Wilson (University of Birmingham)
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Women have been prolific and successful writers of detective fiction throughout the twentieth century. The emergence of feminist detective fiction as a distinct subgenre, featuring a female protagonist and distinctly feminist plot concerns and narrative features, is much more recent. Although Dorothy Sayer’s Gaudy Night (1935) and Amanda Cross’s oeuvre are important precursors, the form’s arrival is usually dated from the publication of Marcia Muller’s Edwin of the Iron Shoes (1977) and Liza Cody’s Dupe (1980), followed in 1982 by what turned out to be the first in two best-selling series, Sue Grafton’s A is for Alibi and Sara Paretsky’s Indemnity Only. All these novels feature female private eyes who are recognizably revisionist versions of what had hitherto seemed securely…

2628 words

Citation: Wilson, Anna. "Feminist Detective Fiction". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 November 2001 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=382, accessed 04 December 2023.]

382 Feminist 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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