Most academics subscribed to the belief that Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841) was the first detective story to appear in print, not succeeded in American print media till 1891 when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series was syndicated. LeRoy Panek and Mary Bendel-Simso beg to differ. Approximately 10 years ago, they found evidence to the contrary.
The co-authors first collaborated on an anthology of these stories. I’ve just ordered it!
Also, as archives have been made available online, these two English professors at McDaniel College created the Westminster Detective Library, a unique online collection of more than 1300 (!) pieces of crime fiction published in newspapers and magazines. You can visit it at wdl.mcdaniel.edu. The earliest found so far was published in 1824.
Most are published anonymously and many were pirated by other publications. But according to the article, “…some famous names appear as authors, including Mark Twain and Walter Whitman—before he was the poet Walt Whitman. Abraham Lincoln’s ‘The Trailor Murder Mystery’ was published in 1846 in the Quincy Whig. Charles Dickens published ‘Hunted Down’ in The New York Ledger in 1859.” (Bolding added.)
I’ve also ordered their new release, The Essential Elements of the Detective Story, 1820-1891! Also, check out the dozens of Panek’s books now available, covering many aspects of mysteries over the centuries. He is an internationally recognized expert.
According to Bendel-Simso, some basics of forensics were first imagined in early detective stories. “Fingerprints and blood were both used as evidence in fiction 20 years before they were accepted as such in real life.”
Even if you aren’t already inspired to dive into this treasure trove of books—they are expensive—at least check out a few sample stories at https://wdl.mcdaniel.edu!