Exhibition preview: Murder in the Library: An A-Z of Crime Fiction, British Library, London, until May 12 2013
This month, the British Library will publish Revelations of a Lady Detective. Written by William Stephens Hayward in 1864, the novel is the second ever to feature a female detective, with the Mrs Paschal in question proving a “much racier” heroine than her narrow predecessor in The Female Detective, a book from the same year by Andrew Forrester.
Paschal carries a Colt revolver, smokes on the cover, trails suspects and searches houses. And in this A-Z of Crime (A for Agatha Christie, H for Hardboiled, naturally), the Library’s Curator of Theatrical Manuscripts, Kathryn Johnson, has drawn from the British and North American collections, finding a 1926 Sherlock Holmes manuscript and material relating to real-life historical crimes along the way.
© British Library Board
Miss Marple’s first appearance, in Royal Magazine in 1929, is among the highlights. Dennis Wheatley’s dossiers of murder feature physical clues such as human hair and reports in a section at the back.
Perhaps the most unlikely authors are Gypsy Rose Lee, an actress and burlesque star, and footballing heroes Pele and Terry Venables, who both found time to swap penalty areas for pen and paper.
John Gielgud’s annotated script for Murder on the Orient Express also accompanies photographs of his appearance in Morse, taken from his personal album.
- Open 9.30am-6pm (8pm Tuesday, 5pm Saturday, 11am-5pm Sunday and Bank Holidays). Admission free. Follow the library on Twitter @britishlibrary.
© The Estate of John Gielgud