The late nineteenth century saw the emergence detective novel in which the lower classes are painted as the same sort of Gothic monstrous children as are the Irish. Wilkie Collins and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle merged the sensationalism High Victorians adored with the Gothic to perfect a new genre, the detective story. Sherlock Holmes is both a hero, in that he solves cases and repeatedly saves London from against the forces of evil, usually lower-class and foreign criminals, and Gothic hero. It is his strong power of perception that solves crimes, and it is his hunger for sensation that drives his crime-solving and his cocaine use. To succeed as a detective Holmes frequently must himself descend into London's underworld. He is simultaneously of the family of respectable English professionals in his ends, but his motivations and his means serve to place him somehow outside of society into the family of naughty and monstrous children, simultaneously creations of society and completely outside of it.


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. By Arthur Conan Doyle. London: George Newnes, Ltd., 1892. First Edition. The Special Collections Department. Sherlock Holmes, blessed with acute powers of seduction and cursed with a cocaine habit, gave rise to a veritable army of detectives and a new genre. Many prefer the original, however; Holmes societies enjoy burgeoning memberships worldwide. Holmes's middle-class bachelor walks a fine line between respectability and dishonor; it is often necessary for him to descend into the underworld he so often investigates.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. By Arthur Conan Doyle. London: George Newnes, Ltd., 1892. First edition. The Special Collections Department. Sherlock Holmes himself is occasionally unable to keep himself safe from the criminals he investigates; here, he is in trouble indeed.

The Hound of the Baskervilles: Another Mystery of Sherlock Holmes. London: George Newnes, 1902. First edition. The Special Collections Department. View other pages.

The Moonstone. By Wilkie [William] Collins. This book is inscribed by the author to Charles Dickens; it also bears Dickens's bookplate. Some critics believe that it was out of Collins's success with this Gothic mystery that Charles Dickens began his own The Mystery of Edwin Drood. In Collins' novel, the moonstone of the title is an enormous diamond originally stolen from an Indian shrine and is given to the English Rachel Verrinder on her eighteenth birthday. The mystery of the theft is solved by detective Sergeant Cuff. Literary historians generally regard this tale as the prototype for the full-length detective novel.

The Woman in White. By Wilkie Collins. London: Sampson Low, Son, and Company, 1860. First edition. The novel contains the extremely Gothic elements of a midnight encounter on a lonely road. Collins based this mysterious encounter on his first meeting with Caroline Graves, with whom he later lived for many years. The Gothic elements of story continue with the theme of mysterious identity in a double plot line in which both characters are eventually restored to their proper places in life. Also featured is a mysterious and dangerous Italian secret society.

A Wonderful Ghost Story: Being Mr H's Own Narrative. A Recital of Facts with Unpublished Letters from Charles Dickens to the Author Respecting It. By Thomas Heaphy. London: Griffith and Farran, 1882. The Special Collections Department. In 1850 novelist Charles Dickens started the periodical Household Words; in 1859 it became All the Year 'Round, which he edited until his death in 1870.


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