Murder in the Library: An A-Z of Crime Fiction

British Library

21 January – 12 May 2013

Free to all

National Art Pass lets you enjoy free entry to over 240 venues across the UK as well as 50% off major exhibitions.

Find out more

A thrilling investigation of crime fiction from the early 1800s to the present day, featuring many of Britain's best known sleuths.

The Mask of Fu Man Chu, in Collier’s magazine, 7 May 1932

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.

Don't miss

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.

Venue information

Opening times

Main building

Mon – Thu, 9.30am – 8pm

Fri, 9.30am –​6pm (Sat until 5pm)

​Sun, 11am-5pm

Treasures Gallery and PACCAR exhibitions

Tue –Thu, 9.30am-8pm, Mon & Fri until 6pm, Sat until 5pm, Sun 11am – 5pm

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)