The following report appeared in the Argus newspaper of Saturday, the 28th July, 18- "Truth is said to be stranger than fiction, and certainly the extraordinary murder which took place in Melbourne on Thursday night, or rather Friday morning, goes a long way towards verifying this saying. A crime has been committed by an unknown assassin, within a short distance of the principal streets of this great city, and is surrounded by an inpenetrable mystery. Indeed, from the nature of the crime itself, the place where it was committed, and the fact that the assassin has escaped without leaving a trace behind him, it would seem as though the case itself had been taken bodily from one of Gaboreau's novels, and that his famous detective Lecoq alone would be able to unravel it.
Before there was Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, there was Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab—the biggest, and fastest-selling, detective novel of the 1800s, and Australia’s first literary blockbuster. Fergus Hume was an aspiring playwright when he moved from Dunedin to Melbourne in 1885. He wrote The Mystery of a Hansom Cab with the humble hope of bringing his name to the attention of theatre managers. The book sold out its first run almost instantly and it became a runaway word-of-mouth phenomenon—but its author sold the copyright for a mere fifty pounds, missing out on a potential fortune. Blockbuster! is the engrossing story of a book that would help define the genre of crime fiction, and a portrait of a great city in full bloom. Rigorously researched and full of arresting detail, this captivating book is a must-read for all fans of true crime, history and crime fiction alike. Lucy Sussex was born in New Zealand. She has edited four anthologies, including She’s Fantastical, shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award. Her award-winning fiction includes books for younger readers and the novel The Scarlet Rider. Lucy has five short-story collections, including My Lady Tongue, A Tour Guide in Utopia, Absolute Uncertainty and Matilda Told Such Dreadful Lies. Lucy Sussex's latest book is Blockbuster! Fergus Hume and The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. She lives in Melbourne. ‘[Sussex] provides a rich picture of Victorian life and a revealing account of late 19th-century publishing practices...Fascinating.’ Publishers Weekly ‘An absorbing, at times fascinating companion to The Mystery of a Hansom Cab.’ Age/SMH/Brisbane Times ‘Told with wit and lightly worn scholarship...Sussex has written a fine, thoroughly engaging and multifaceted history. Generously, she has shared her fun with the rest of us.’ Australian ‘The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of crime fiction or Australian literature, but is highly recommended even if you’re not: Sussex is a superb story-teller and leavens this fascinating account with dry wit. It deserves to be a blockbuster.’ Tara Sharp ‘This is a fine book about a novel that defined the burgeoning genre of crime fiction, full of wit, important discoveries and fascinating insights – like its subject, a real page-turner.’ Wormwoodiana ‘Sussex skillfully assembles the known information about a very private man and his times, and reveals a Victorian world whose machinations and mysteries are equal to those of his most famous fiction.’ Stuff NZ ‘A very interesting whodunit about a whodunit.’ North and South ‘Blockbuster! is almost too much to take in. It’s a wealth of well researched information, but readable and informative just the same. The book is equipped with bibliography, end notes, epitaphs and reviews, enough to keep the curious occupied for hours.’ Otago Daily Times ‘A wealth of well-researched information, readable, informative and enough to keep the curious occupied for hours.’ Otago Daily Times, 2015’s Must Read Books ‘Blockbuster! makes for highly enjoyable and informative reading.’ Washington Post
In the dead of night, on a dark, lonely street in Melbourne, a cabby discovers that his drunken passenger has been murdered--suffocated with a chloroform saturated handkerchief. The murderer, his motive, even the identity of the victim are unknown.
Concentrating on works by authors such as Fergus Hume, Arthur Conan Doyle, Grant Allen, L.T. Meade, and Marie Belloc Lowndes, Christopher Pittard explores the complex relation between the emergence of detective fictions in the 1880s and 1890s and the concept of purity. The centrality of material and moral purity as a theme of the genre, Pittard argues, both reflected and satirised a contemporary discourse of degeneration in which criminality was equated with dirt and disease and where national boundaries were guarded against the threat of the criminal foreigner. Situating his discussion within the ideologies underpinning George Newnes's Strand Magazine as well as a wide range of nonfiction texts, Pittard demonstrates that the genre was a response to the seductive and impure delights associated with sensation and gothic novels. Further, Pittard suggests that criticism of detective fiction has in turn become obsessed with the idea of purity, thus illustrating how a genre concerned with policing the impure itself became subject to the same fear of contamination. Contributing to the richness of Pittard's project are his discussions of the convergence of medical discourse and detective fiction in the 1890s, including the way social protest movements like the antivivisectionist campaigns and medical explorations of criminality raised questions related to moral purity.
A Companion to Crime Fiction presents the definitive guide to this popular genre from its origins in the eighteenth century to the present day A collection of forty-seven newly commissioned essays from a team of leading scholars across the globe make this Companion the definitive guide to crime fiction Follows the development of the genre from its origins in the eighteenth century through to its phenomenal present day popularity Features full-length critical essays on the most significant authors and film-makers, from Arthur Conan Doyle and Dashiell Hammett to Alfred Hitchcock and Martin Scorsese exploring the ways in which they have shaped and influenced the field Includes extensive references to the most up-to-date scholarship, and a comprehensive bibliography
This early work by Fergus Hume was originally published in 1912 and we are now republishing it with a brand new introductory biography. 'Red Money' is a mysterious tale of an English manor house and the arrival of some transient gipsies. Fergusson Wright Hume was born on 8th July 1859 in England, the second son of Dr. James Hume. The family migrated to New Zealand where Fergus was enrolled at Otago Boys' High School, and later continued his legal and literary studies at the University of Otago. Hume returned to England in 1888 where he resided in London for a few years until moving to the Essex countryside. There he published over 100 novels, mainly in the mystery fiction genre, though none had the success of his début work.
This book investigates the development of crime fiction in the 1880s and 1890s, challenging studies of late-Victorian crime fiction which have given undue prominence to a handful of key figures and have offered an over-simplified analytical framework, thereby overlooking the generic, moral, and formal complexities of the nascent genre.
The Morley family--a husband, his wife and her three children from a former marriage, one young ward, and a governess. Add in Giles Ware, a young man who was engaged by a family agreement to the young ward, and the fact that he's in love with the governess, and you have the start of a mystery. When the young ward is found dead and the governess has disappeared with a mysterious man, Mr. Ware and a detective, Mr. Steel, must search for the governess and unravel the mystery...
A Thematic History of Crime Fiction in the 19th Century World
Author: Stephen Knight
Category: Literary Criticism
Crime fiction—a product of the burgeoning metropolis of the 19th century—features specialists who identify criminals to protect an anxious citizenry. Before detectives came to play the central role, the protagonists tended to be lawyers or other professionals. Major English writers like Gaskell, Dickens and Collins contributed to the genre—Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab was a best-seller in 1887—and American and French authors created new forms. This book explores thematic aspects of 19th century crime fiction’s complex history, including various social and gender roles between different time periods and settings, and the imperial elements that made Sherlock Holmes seem dynamically contemporary.