Event—Adult Education

The Lady Detective: From Victorian Sleuth to Feminine Noir


Solve mysteries alongside the great women detectives of literature.

Agatha Christie as a young woman. Source: The Christie Archive Trust via Wikimedia Commons.

Class Description

Sherlock Holmes is firmly lodged in the popular imagination of the world as the Great Detective, but British and American female detectives, created by women authors, appeared at about the same time and have a history of their own. Reading examples of this genre will allow us to explore the rise of detective fiction and the popular Victorian fascination with crime and detection, as well as the situation of women in Victorian Britain and America. We will also discuss two famous twentieth-century fictional female detectives illustrating the bifurcation of detective fiction in general. Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple serves as an example of a gifted amateur in the “cozy” or soft-boiled murder mystery genre, while Sara Paretsky’s private detective V.I Warshawski provides a feminine example of the hard-boiled protagonists of noir thrillers.

Elżbieta Foeller-Pituch is the Assistant Director of the Chabraja Center for Historical Studies at Northwestern University, where she also teaches literature classes.

Materials List

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First Reading

Please read the following, all available online.

    Cost and Registration

    4 sessions, $200 ($180 for Newberry members, seniors, and students). Learn about becoming a member.

    To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.


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