The cult of the fictional Victorian detective, including Sherlock Holmes, has tended to obscure the achievements of those publicly-employed detectives operating in the real world of Victorian London. Indeed Conan-Doyle and other authors, despite writing some hugely-enjoyable books, have wittingly or otherwise created an image of the Scotland Yard detectives of their day as, bumbling, and frequently unsuccessful agents of the Crown . They were much more interesting than that. The fictional picture has also been further compounded by some non-fiction authors in the late 19th and early-mid 20th centuries who have developed their own ‘true-crime’ parodies of Victorian crime-detection. To some extent one can almost forgive these later authors as, in their day, they had little or no access to the original Victorian crime reports (many of which had not been released into the public domain before the mid 1960s), or to readily-accessible archives of contemporary newspapers. However, some of the texts produced during this period (which almost invariably do not cite their sources) contain so much misinformation that they are little better in defining the reality of Victorian crime detection, than fictional accounts.
Since the mid 1960s, the release of contemporary Victorian documentation into national and regional archives and particularly, within the last 10 years, the increasing availability of digitised newspapers, and court proceedings (e.g. Old Bailey Online), has transformed the accessibility of primary sources of research material. As a result more reliable accounts of the realities of Victorian crime detection are becoming available.
The purpose of this Blog is to add to the information available relating to Detectives who operated during the Victorian era, to improve awareness of the individuals involved and the social conditions and priorities within which they worked, and to provide opportunity for guest authors to submit blogs on subjects consistent with the subject matter of this website. If you are interested in posting such material on this site, please contact me by leaving a comment on the site, or via email at email@example.com . In the meantime most of the posts on this Blog have emerged from my own research on Scotland Yard detectives operating between 1860 and 1880, some of which has been published in my first True Crime book, 'The Chieftain'.