Burrow, Merrick (2017) Holmes and the History of Detective Fiction. In: The Cambridge Companion to Sherlock Holmes. Cambridge University Press. (Submitted)

The extent of Holmes’s dominance in our perceptions of late-Victorian detective fiction might lead one to the conclusion that Doyle was the most successful practitioner of detective fiction, even if he did not invent the genre or the scientific method. But even this is not altogether correct. Why, then, does Holmes loom so large in the history of detective fiction? In the first part of this chapter I will examine some of the late-Victorian detective fiction against which Doyle defined his ‘new’ detective, before exploring the influence of Edgar Allan Poe and Émile Gaboriau. I will then survey some of Holmes’s competitors and consider the reasons why he eventually prevailed in shaping the direction that the genre would take. The final part of the chapter traces the course of Holmes’s influence in the development of the whodunit and hardboiled American private eye thrillers as well as the wider field of the crime writing.

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