Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Liberal Studies


John Wilson

Second Committee Member

Deborah Rogers

Third Committee Member

Kristina Passman


This Master Project presents evidence showing why mystery and detective fiction flourished during the Victorian period and argues that this enduring genre was a natural outgrowth of this time. The project presents material on the culture of the Victorian period and shows how the roles of men and women are defined. This project will argue that mystery and detective fiction flourished because of the changes in popular culture; that the sweeping changes in education, medicine, literature, religion and business solidified the popularity of this genre. Along with this genre of fiction came a new way of publishing and reading. One mystery and detective fiction writer will be examined: Wilkie Collins, credited with writing one of the first mystery and detective novels and known as one of the fathers of the modern detective novel. This project does not intend to examine in minute detail all aspects of the Victorian period that caused the popularity of mystery and detective fiction. Rather, it will highlight those areas that contributed most significantly and had the most enduring affects. What this project will assert, again, is that mystery and detective fiction sprang from the startling changes that occurred during a vibrant, tumultuous and exciting era of history-the Victorian period.