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The First Detectives in Crime Fiction

Who Were the Original Detectives in Crime Fiction Books ?

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The First Detectives in Crime Fiction and their Creators

We'll keep this fairly simple so as not to weary the casual searcher, more information on the history and development of books in the crime fiction genre can be found in the links at the end of this article. Here then is a simple table telling you which authors created the first major detectives in mystery fiction, who those detectives were and when they made their first notable appearance in print.
The list shows the detectives in order of appearance in publication, not always the book that is mentioned.

A Readers Guide to the Beginnings of Crime & Mystery Fiction

Author Detective Date Notes
Edgar Allan Poe Auguste Dupin 1845 The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Charles Dickens Inspector Bucket 1853 Appeared in Bleak House
Emile Gaboriau Pere Taberet 1866
Wilkie Collins Sergeant Cuff 1868 Appeared in the book The Moonstone
Anna Katharine Green Ebenezer Gryce 1878 The Leavenworth Case
Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes 1887 A Study in Scarlet
Israel Zangwill George Grodman 1891 The Big Bow Mystery
Arthur Morrison Martin Hewitt 1894 Martin Hewitt Investigator
Maurice Leblanc Arsene Lupin 1905
G.R. Benson James Callaghan 1906 Tracks in the Snow
Robert Barr Eugene Valmont 1906 Triumphs of Eugene Valmont
Jacques Futrelle Augustus S.F.X. Van Dusen 1907 The Thinking Machine
R. Austin Freeman Dr Thorndyke 1907 The Red Thumb Mark
Gaston Leroux Jospeh Rouletabille 1908
A.E.W. Mason Hanaud 1910 At the Villa Rose
Arthur B. Reeve Professor Craig Kennedy 1913 The Silent Bullet
G.K. Chesterton Father Brown 1911
Melville Davisson Post Uncle Abner 1911
E.C. Bentley Philp Trent 1913
Ernest Bramah Max Carrados 1914
Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot 1920
H.C. Bailey Reginald Fortune 1920 Call Mr Fortune
Dorothy L. Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey 1923 The Nine Tailors
Freeman Wills Crofts Inspector French 1924
Edgar Wallace J.G. Reeder 1926
Philip Macdonald Colonel Anthony Gethryn 1924 The Rasp
john Rhode Dr Priestley 1925 The Paddington Mystery
Anthony Berkeley Roger Sherringham 1925
Earl Derr Biggers Charlie Chan 1925 The House Without a Key
S.S. Van Dine Philo Vance 1926 The Benson Murder Case
R.A.J. Walling Philip Tolefree 1928
Margery Allingham Albert Campion 1928
Ellery Queen Ellery Queen 1929
Dashiell Hammett Sam Spade 1929
David Frome Pinkerton 1930 The Hammersmith Murders
John Dickson Carr Dr Gideon Fell 1930
Carter Dickson Sir Henry Merrivale 1930
Georges Simenon Inspector Maigret 1930
Phoebe Atwood Taylor Asey Mayo 1931
Erle Stanley Gardner Perry Mason 1933
Rex Stout Nero Wolfe 1934 Fer De Lance
Ngaio Marsh Roderick Alleyn 1934
Nicholas Blake Nigel Strangeways 1935
Michael Innes Inspector Appleby 1936
Eric Ambler Charles Latimer 1936

The list of characters above and their creators provides the bedrock of what is now the most popular genre in fiction - crime, mystery and detective fiction. If you read any of the suggested books or other titles by these early mystery authors then you'll find nothing really new in more modern books - today they may be more explicit and gory but plots and story lines have all gone before - many thanks to writers who are now all but forgotten by the general public but who remain dear to lovers and collectors of crime, mystery and detective fiction books . . .

See Also: History of Detective Fiction or Sherlock Holmes or see The Golden Age of Crime Fiction or Hard Boiled
Text © 2020 R.D. Collins

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