The British Library keeps popping up over the last few weeks and one thing that really got me excited is there new exhibition:
Classic locked-room mysteries, tales of murder and mayhem in quaint villages or gritty adventures on mean city streets.
Crime fiction, which currently accounts for over a third of all fiction published in English, holds millions of people enthralled. Murder in the Library will take you on a fascinating journey through the development of crime and detective fiction, from its origins in the early 19th century through to contemporary Nordic Noir, taking in the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the first appearance of Miss Marple and the fiendish plots of Dr Fu Manchu along the way.
There have been some happy visitors:
“The exhibition is made by such weird and wonderful artefacts. Each one speaks of the simple joys that the genre has brought. They remind you that people both large and small have been thrilled by crime writing, a great leveller. Murder in the Library made me smile on an otherwise bleak midwinter day.”
So I’m definitely going there when I’m in London at the end of February.
And then we have their sound archive gathering togethers hours and hours and hours of interviews with various writers:
“The Writing Life: Authors Speak podcasts
Sarah O’Reilly, project interviewer for Authors’ Lives writes:
Extracts from the oral history collection Authors’ Lives have recently been published on a 2-disc CD, ‘The Writing Life: Authors Speak’. One of the most difficult tasks in putting the CD together was to boil down the hundreds of hours of interviews we had in the archive into two 70-minute CDs. And seeing as those interviews covered all aspects of the writer’s life – from what may make someone grow up to be a writer, to their experience of the writing process and the things that inspire them, to the changes they may have witnessed over the last half century to the way in which books are written, published and read – we had a job deciding which aspect of the writer’s life the CD should focus on.
In the end we felt that a CD which could shed some light on the creative process would be of most interest to listeners, and the most straightforward way of handling the heterogenous material within the collection. Because though we may know as readers what it is to live with (or should that be through?) a book, we probably don’t know much about the writer’s experience of the creative process, let alone their values, inspirations and perceptions of their craft. And how much do we understand about the way in which a writer’s life may be put into the service of their work? We hope ‘The Writing Life: Authors’ Speak’ will shed some light on these mysterious areas.
A BL podcast on ‘The Writing Life: Authors Speak’ can be found here. To hear three interviewees – Philip Hensher, Hilary Spurling and Michael Frayn – discussing their writing lives in a recent event in the Library Conference Centre, click here. The interviews within the Authors’ Lives archive can be browsed on the Sound Archive catalogue by searching with the collection reference number C1276.”
I’m lucky to speak to various authors on the podcast and hearing what they sound like and how they speak is always a revelation.
And whilst browsing I came across this:
Typical of detective fiction of its time, Andrew Forrester’s book features various cases narrated by Miss Gladden, or ‘G’ as she is also known. Her deductive methods and energetic approach anticipate those of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and she can be seen as beginning a powerful tradition of female detectives. ‘G’ uses similar methods to her male counterparts – she enters scenes of crime incognito, tracking down killers while trying to conceal her own tracks and her identity from others.
‘G’, the first female detective, does much physical detective work, examining crime scenes, looking for clues and employing all manner of skill, subterfuge, observation and charm to achieve her ends. Like Holmes, ‘G’ regards the regular constabulary with disdain. For all the intrigue and interest of the stories, little is ever revealed about ‘G’ herself, and her personal circumstances remain a mystery throughout. But it is her ability to apply her considerable energy and intelligence to solve crimes that is her greatest appeal, and the reappearance of the original lady detective will be welcomed by fans of crime fiction.
I’ve never head of ‘G’ though I’m a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. Has anyone read it? From the Amazon reviews it seems it’s better seen has an historical document rather than a book to enjoy for pleasure. I’m curious nonetheless.
Are you a British Library fan? What’s your must see?