The Detective: Fact Meets Fiction

Stewart, Ian
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University of Delaware
This study investigated the relationship that fictional detective had with professional detective during the mid and late Victorian era as figures that helped to instill some form of “truth” after it had been broken down in the early 1800s. Prior to the introduction of the professional detective, scientific breakthroughs disrupted notions of religious truth, and technological improvements allowed the rapid growth of the modern city, which led to the rise of crime. Both of these situations caused anxiety for the Victorian public, and a much-needed source of social stability was sought after. Ironically, the very force that was initiated to create a safer environment for the public was the professional detective was received with disdain and distrust. In order to correct this, the professional detective joined forces with the press, which allowed each profession to rise in terms of public acceptance. Eventually, the fictional detective emerged, which, in turn, created an environment for the public to have social stability, and truth.