Murder in the Library: An A-Z of Crime Fiction
21 January – 12 May 2013
A thrilling investigation of crime fiction from the early 1800s to the present day, featuring many of Britain's best known sleuths.
Crime fiction is not about the squalid details of a murder or the bungling incompetence of a police detective; it is about society, and what happens to it when order breaks down.
Britain, it is safe to say, has had a healthy fascination with this genre of fiction for over 200 years, and this exhibition at the British Library presents an A-Z of crime novels, from the gas-lit horrors of the Victorian era to the pulp paper backs of the 1930s. Locked rooms, monkeys, speckled bands and dark strangers from foreign lands, the peculiar world of the murder mystery is here in all its disquieting glory for the amateur criminologist to enjoy.
No exhibition of this nature would be complete without Sherlock Holmes and so Arthur Conan Doyle’s manuscript of the short story ‘The Adventure of the Retired Colourman’ published in 1926 is on show.
There is a copy of the Royal Magazine where another giant of crime fiction, the diminutive Miss Marple, first appeared, and finally books by Dennis Wheatley, who’s prolific accounts of the villainy in the club lands of the rich no doubt did much to dissuade the middle classes from joining them there.