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Elaine Goodey

Languages and Literature, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

The publications of police detectives 1880 - 1930: Genre, identity and the consumption of crime

My research builds upon my MA thesis, detailed in the Biography section below.

I examine the little-known texts published by retired police detectives between 1880-1930. The period witnessed both the explosive growth in cheap, fast detective fiction and the later rise authors such as Crofts, Christie and Sayers in ‘The Golden Age’ of crime fiction. 

Seeking to capitalise on this boom, retiring police detectives published texts detailing bizarre or notable cases in their careers. Yet, their texts moved beyond reportage to encompass advice to readers on crime prevention, social commentary and biographies of the criminals they investigated. 

Specifically, I explore:
  • how the texts shape our understanding of crime literature as entertainment,
  • the relationship between fiction and autobiography in the texts, 
  • the authors’ objections to the detectives depicted in contemporary crime fiction, and 
  • how the detectives obscure their own individuality by identifying themselves as part of the police institution.

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature

Other Research Interests

  • How society reacts to crime, and uses media such as newspapers, television dramatizations and podcasts to explore both ‘true crime’ and fictionalised crime.
  • Spy fiction, the close cousin of crime fiction. 
  • 'Condition of England' texts, specifically those by Charles Dickens, Jack London and Margaret Harkness
  • During my BA I developed an interest in how a sense of nationhood is cultivated through literature, specifically in the texts of Grace Aguilar and Amy Levy. 
  • Analysis of auto/biography 
  • The self and self-fashioning
  • Autobiografiction, the generic model propounded by Stephen Reynolds in 1906.
  • The period 1840-1939, bookended by Edgar Allen Poe's Dupin short stories and the Golden Age heyday; encompassing Dickens, Collins, Doyle, Chesterton and Christie, amongst others.


VPFA (Victorian Popular Fiction Association)
BAVS (British Association for Victorian Studies)


I studied for my BA in English at the University of Birmingham from 2010-13. My dissertation was supervised by Prof. Hugh Adlington and explored the tension between Jewish and British identities the novels of Grace Aguilar and Amy Levy.
I completed my MA English: 1850-Present (Part-Time) at King’s College London from 2017-19. My thesis was supervised by Prof. Mark Turner and focussed on the following texts published by retired detectives, formerly of the Metropolitan Police:
  • A Life’s Reminiscences of Scotland Yard In One-And-Twenty Dockets (1890) by Andrew Lansdowne
  • Stories from Scotland Yard (1890) by Maurice Moser, and
  • The Reminiscences of Chief Inspector Littlechild (1894) by John Littlechild 
From 2013-2019 I worked as an accountant for various businesses in the City of London (either full-time, or part-time during my MA studies), before returning to academia full-time.


Banner image courtesy of Victorian Web: http://www.victorianweb.org/history/crime/3.html