Who was the first female detective in literature? There has been much controversy on this subject. In his (well, their) Queen’s Quorum, Ellery Queen identified Mrs. Paschal in the anonymous “The Revelations of a Lady Detective” as the earliest female detective. Although the book was published in 1864, there was falsely believed to be an earlier 1861 edition. That means that Mrs. G. of Andrew J. Forrester Jr.’s “The Female Detective” (published in 1864 six months before “The Revelations ”) wins the prize. But I love Mrs. Paschal nevertheless. In “The Mysterious Countess,” she describes herself: “[I] became one of the much-dreaded, but little-known people called Female Detectives, at the time I was verging upon forty. My brain was vigorous and subtle, and I concentrated all my energies upon the proper fulfilment and execution of those duties which devolved upon me.” The author of the stories is usually cited as William Stephens Hayward, but there is still debate regarding whether that attribution is correct. Shown here from the Lilly Library’s collections: 1-2) Wonderful 1884 yellowback edition with pictorial boards, 3) quack medical cure advert from the same, 4-5) Our cataloging has this listed as , but I believe it may be the 1864 first edition. Does anyone know?
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