Chorley, Jack (2016) Orwell's Perfect Murder: The Culture of Victorian Crime. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This dissertation asks what Victorian crime fiction can tell us about nineteenth-century attitudes towards crime, primarily focusing on the novels The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (published 1886, henceforth referred to as Strange Case), A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (published 1890, henceforth referred to as Picture) and Armadale by Wilkie Collins. The timeline of observation starts around 1866, with the publishing of Wilkie Collins’s novel Armadale and the steadily increasing demand for a new kind of crime fiction separate from the romance and mystery novels of the early 1800s. It ends around 1925 with George Orwell’s retrospectively-focused Decline of the English Murder, but will utilise literary criticism leading up to the present day. Later critical material is used to discuss the culture of English crime, from degeneration theory to the popularity of Penny Dreadfuls. The purpose of this dissertation is to determine what makes the most compelling crime fiction and why audiences in the late nineteenth century became enamoured with a specific type of literary murder. The novelty of this analysis is, that whilst many of the critics observed in the fourth chapter have discussed patterns within crime fiction, none have yet combined this with Orwell’s essay to create a crime fiction schema.

FINAL THESIS - Chorley.pdf - Accepted Version
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