This book maps the development of the boy detective in British children's literature from the mid-nineteenth to the early-twentieth century. It explores how this liminal figure - a boy operating within a man's world - addresses adult anxieties about boyhood and the boy's transition to manhood. It investigates the literary, social and ideological significance of a vast array of popular detective narratives appearing in 'penny dreadfuls' and story papers which were aimed primarily at working-class boys. This study charts the relationship between developments in the representation of the fictional boy detective and changing expectations of and attitudes towards real-life British boys during a period where the boy's role in the future of the Empire was a key concern. It emphasises the value of the early fictional boy detective as an ideological tool to condition boy readers to fulfil adult desires and expectations of what boyhood and, in the future, proper manhood should entail. It will be of particular importance to scholars working in the fields of children's literature, crime fiction and popular culture.
Lucy Andrew is Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Chester. Her research interests are in children's and young adult literature, crime fiction and fandom. She has published on Veronica Mars and supernatural crime fiction for young readers. She is the co-editor of Crime Fiction in the City: Capital Crimes (2013).
1. Introduction: The Birth of the Boy Detective.- 2. The Corruption of Youth: Juvenile Delinquency and the Boy Detective Hero.- 3. Taming the Beast: Adolescence, Empire and the Detective's Boy Assistant.- 4. "Be Prepared!": Looming Conflict, Active Citizenship and the Rise of the Professional Boy Detective.- 5. Forever Young: The Cult of Childhood and the Schoolboy Detective.- 6. The Journey Continues? Boy Detectives beyond the Story Papers.- Appendix: Chronology.- Bibliography.- Index.