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The Police and the Periodical: Policing and Detection in Victorian Journalism and the Rise of Detective Fiction, c. 1840-1900

Saunders, SJ (2018) The Police and the Periodical: Policing and Detection in Victorian Journalism and the Rise of Detective Fiction, c. 1840-1900. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the connections between the nineteenth century periodical press and the development of detective fiction, between approximately 1840 and 1900. It argues that these two Victorian developments were closely interrelated, and that each had significant impacts on the other which has hitherto gone underexplored in academic scholarship. The thesis argues that the relationship between the police and the periodical press solidified in the mid-Victorian era, thanks to the simultaneous development of a nationwide system of policing as a result of the passage of the 1856 County and Borough Police Act and the abolition of the punitive ‘taxes on knowledge’ throughout the 1850s and early 1860s. This established a connection between the police and the periodical, and the police were critically examined in the periodical press for the remainder of the nineteenth century from various perspectives. This, the thesis argues, had a corresponding effect on various kinds of fiction, which began to utilise police officers in new ways – notably including as literary guides and protectors for authors wishing to explore growing urban centres in mid-Victorian cities which had been deemed ‘criminal’. ‘Detective fiction’ in the mid-Victorian era, therefore, was characterised by trust in the police officer to protect middle-class social and economic values. Towards the end of the nineteenth century however, everything changed. The thesis explores how journalistic reporting of a corruption scandal in 1877, as well as the Fenian bombings and Whitechapel murders of the 1880s, contributed to significant changes in the detective genre. This was the construction of the image of the ‘bumbling bobby’, and the corresponding rise of the private or amateur detective, which ultimately led to the appearance of the character who epitomised the relationship between the police and the periodical – Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Victorian; Detective Fiction; Crime Fiction; Journalism; Nineteenth-Century; Periodicals; Newspapers; Media; Policing; Detection
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
Divisions: Humanities and Social Science
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2018 09:38
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2018 09:17
DOI or Identification number: 10.24377/researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk.00009622
Supervisors: Cranfield, J and Norquay, G
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/9622

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