Sleuths and Spies: the rise of the 'Everywoman' in detective and thriller fiction of the 1920s
Bydder, Jillene and Rachel Franks (2013). Sleuths and Spies: the rise of the 'Everywoman' in detective and thriller fiction of the 1920s. In Paul Mountford (Ed), Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand: refereed conference papers of the 4th Annual International Conference of the Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand, (pp. 31-40). Sydney: Popular Culture Association of Australian and New Zealand (PopCAANZ).
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8439
The 1920s, frequently referred to as the ‘Roaring Twenties’ or the ‘Jazz Age’, are often associated with opulent lifestyles and the emergence of striking fashion and furniture trends. Themes in the history of women in crime and thriller fiction show, however, that this decade was also a difficult period in the West, one of widespread financial hardship and of living in the shadow of social turmoil: anti-Semitism, conspiracy theories and fear of the foreign dominated the mainstream press as well as popular fiction. It was also a period in which women were working to navigate their way through a society changed forever by the experience of war. This paper examines some of the well-known detective and thriller fiction writers of the 1920s – Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, John Buchan and William Le Queux – and shows how their characters chart the sexualisation of women as well as women’s resistance to the prevailing views of the day. Fictional women of this period represent ‘Everywoman’: independent and intelligent and, most importantly, sleuths and spies in their own right.
Popular Culture Association of Australian and New Zealand
Copyright 2013 The Authors.
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