After Holmes appeared, the scientific detective became all the rage. Either the detective went forth armed with his ruler and his magnifying glass, or he sat at home and thought about evidence which had been gathered by others. All of this was building up to the appearance of the Golden Age of mystery fiction.
Many writings by authors of this period are available online and are free. Search at Many Books, Project Gutenberg, or Just Free Books. Amazon's Kindle is now available for PC and Mac conputers for free which is another way to access these older mystery novels.
From 1887 to 1913
C. L. Pirkis (1841 - 1910) In 1893, Pirkis published the first Loveday Brooke story in Ludgate Monthly magazine. This was the first story of a woman detective which was written by a woman. The Loveday Brooke stories were compiled into the book The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective in 1894. Catherine Louisa Pirkis also wrote romantic melodramas and was the author of fourteen books. The Loveday Brooke book was her last, and she retired from writing in 1894. More information about C. L. Pirkis may be found at Golden Age of Detection wiki. The Experiences of Loveday Brooke may be found at Manybooks
George R, Sims (1847 - 1922) In 1897, Sims published Dorcas Dene, Detective: Her Life and Adventures. This book was so popular that he published another collection of Dorcas Dene stories the next year. Dorcas Dene had been an actress before becoming a professional detective and she has a "Watson" named Saxon who writes of her adventures. Sims was a prolific writer and wrote more than 30 plays. His biography may be found at Wikipedia. More about Dorcas Dene may be found at the Golden Age of Detection website.
Robert Barr (1850 - 1912) - Barr wrote offbeat and ironic mysteries which featured his detective Eugene Valmont who was arrogant and impeccable. It has been said that Valmont was the inspiration for Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. Barr was born in Glasgow, Scotland. His family moved to Wallacetown, Ontario in 1854. Barr attended Toronto Normal School and earned a teaching certificate in 1873. He taught in schools in Wallacetown and Windsor. He had submitted articles to The Detroit Free Press and in 1876, he went to work for the Free Press. In 1881, he established a branch of the paper in London. In 1892, he and Jerome K. Jerome founded The Idler, a glossy magazine which was a great success. Barr's first book of short stories was published in 1883, and his first novel was published in 1894. The Triumphs of Eugene Valmont was published in 1906.
Robert Barr - More biographical information, and many short stories may be found at this site of The Literature Network
R. Austin Freeman (1862 - 1943). British physician, author, and creator of Dr. Thorndyke, an early scientific detective.
who was introduced in The Red Thumb Mark (1907). In the book The Singing Bone (1912), Freeman also invented the "inverted" detective story in which the reader witnesses the crime. The emphasis of the book is thus on how the murderer will be caught instead of who the murderer is. Freeman was born in London, and studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons. He worked as a physician in Africa for seven years, but returned to England because of his poor health which eventually forced him to give up medicine completely.
R. Austin Freeman - a biography and links to his writing available online from The Literature Network.
ManyBooks - has several Freeman books in e-book format.
Carolyn Wells (1862 - 1940) - Ms. Wells was born in Rahway, NJ. She had a good education, and worked for the Rahway Library Association after graduating. She married Hadwin Houghton, a member of the American publishing family in 1918. He died a few years later. Ms Wells lived in New York City for the rest of her life. She wrote poetry, and compiled anthologies, and she wrote 82 mystery novels. Her most famous series detective was book-loving Fleming Stone who appeared in 61 of the mysteries. She created ten other detectives, and she wrote the first guide to writing mystery novels, The Technique of the Mystery Story in 1913; this book may be found at Many Books. She has been almost forgotten, however many of her books are now available as ebooks at Amazon. A bibliography of her books may be found at Wikipedia
Arthur Morrison (1863 - 1945). Morrison was a dramatist, journalist, art expert, and author. He was born in London, and worked as a journalist before the publication of Tales of Mean Streets was published
in 1894. This book and others he wrote depicted the life of the people of the slums of London, and were instrumental in bringing about social reform. He is best know for his detective stories about Martin Hewitt, a
private detective. Hewitt is similar to Holmes in his method of solving crimes, though he lacks the strong personality of Holmes. Martin Hewitt, Investigator (1894) is the first book of Hewitt stories. ManyBooks has several of Morrison's books, and Amazon has many Morrison books in ebook format.
Leonard Merrick (1864 - 1939). Merrick was born in London. He studied law until the age of eighteen when he went to South Africa because of his father's financial losses. He worked in the diamond mines at Kimberly. He returned to England in the 1880's and became an actor and an author. In 1888, he published Mr. Bazalgette's Agent which takes its place among the earliest novels which feature a woman detective. Later in his life, for an unknown reason, he bought up all of the copies of this novel and destroyed them. He wrote other novels, short stories, and plays during his life time, but he never wrote another detective story. Mr. Bazalgette's Agent has been published by the British Library and is available in paper and ebook formats. You may find the Leonard Merrick and the Case of his Unloved Female Detective by Liz Bury to be of interest.
Melville Davisson Post (1869 - 1930). Post was born in Romines Mills, West Virginia. He grew up in a rural environment, and graduated from West Virginia University. He practised criminal law for eleven
years, and was active in politics. Post is best known for his short stories, and was quite a successful writer in his day. He is perhaps best known for the characters of Uncle Abner, an upright man who lived
during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, and for Randolph Mason, a crooked lawyer. For more biographical information.. Some of his books may be found at ManyBooks.
Israel Zangwill (1864 - 1926). Zangwill was the son of Russian Jewish refugees who migrated to London. He devoted his life to promoting Jewish causes. He also supported women's suffrage, and opposed the League of Nations. His Big Bow Mystery (1891) was the first novel-length locked room mystery.
His biography is available from the Virtual Jewish Library and some of his books are available at ManyBooks.
Baroness Emmuska Orczy (1865-1947). Hungarian-born Baroness Orczy wrote a series about the Old Man in the Corner. This detective solved crimes by logic alone and only rarely left the corner of his favorite London tea shop. She also wrote a series of stories about Lady Molly Robertson-Kirk who heads the "Female Department of Scotland Yard" (1910). Baroness Orczy is also the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel.
ManyBooks - You will find Lady Molly and other books here.
E(rnest) W(illiam) Hornung (1866-1921). English born author who married Constance Doyle, the sister of Arthur Conan Doyle. Hornung was in poor health most of his life, but in spite of this he served in World War I. Hornung's most famous character is Raffles, the gentleman crook who first appeared in The Amateur Cracksman in 1899. Hornung had lived in Australia for three years, and used the background that he acquired there to write several novels about crime in
His biography may be found at The Literature Network.
E. Phillips Oppenheim(1866- 1946) English author of mystery, crime, and espionage novels. Oppenheim wrote over 100 novels, and did very well financially. His stories often told of life among the rich which was something which he was enjoying himself.
Ernest Bramah (1867 - 1947). Author of stories
featuring Max Carrados, a blind detective, and novels about the Chinese detective Kai Lung. Bramah was born in Manchester, England. Bramah dropped out of high school to become a farmer. When farming failed, he turned to journalism. First, he worked for a small newspaper, and then became the secretary to the publisher Jerome K. Jerome. He left that position to became an editor for a magazine for clergymen, and held this position for the rest of his life. While he held this postion, he started writing mystery stories. His first novel, The Wallet of Kai Lung was published in 1900. He was an avid coin collector and wrote a book on English copper coins.
Many Books - Several of his books are available here.
Gaston Leroux - (1868 - 1927). Author of The Mystery of the Yellow
Room (1907) which is the first mystery in which the person investigating the crime is the murderer. Leroux is also the author of
The Phantom of the Opera (1911).
Gaston Leroux - a biography and links to online works from The Literature Network.
ManyBooks - Several of Leroux's books are available.
Sexton Blake was one of the most popular fictional detectives of the early 20th century. Sexton Blake stories were written by several authors and first appeared in 1893. Blake was a pulp fiction version of Sherlock Holmes with an office on Baker Street in London. There were also movies and TV shows of Blake stories.
Jacques Futrelle (1875-1912). American journalist and author who is best known for his stories featuring Professor Van Dusen (the Thinking Machine). Futrelle was born in Pike County, Virginia. He worked for the Boston American in which many of his stories appeared. Futrelle died when the Titanic sank. His wife, May, survived.