Brain Pickings

Victorian Women in Crime

Long before there was Superwoman, Lara Croft or even Mata Hari, there was a dangerous and suspicous character known as the New Woman — a Victorian rebel who rode bikes, spoke with cutting wit, and took orders from no one. In The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime: Forgotten Cops and Private Eyes from the Time of Sherlock Holmes, Penguin editor Michael Sims orchestrates a meet-and-greet with the most notorious crime-fighting females of Victorian literature, from Loveday Brooke to Dorcas Dene to Lady Molly of Scotland Yard. Though rooted in fiction, the book bespeaks the era’s restlessness for the empowerment of women, embodying culture’s tendency to first imagine social shifts, then enact them.

The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime is out this week and highly recommended. It’s the sequel to 2009’s equally excellent The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime: Con Artists, Burglars, Rogues, and Scoundrels from the Time of Sherlock Holmes.

Published January 28, 2011




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