The detective writers of the 1920s and 1930s weren’t working a vacuum. They took a keen interest in the crimes of their time, often weaving elements from actual murder cases into their plots or referencing them directly. And there was one case, a murder both infamous and domestic, that interested the likes of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Anthony Berkeley more than any other.
This real life murder mystery has everything: a body hidden in the cellar, adultery, a transatlantic steamship pursuit, cross dressing, and a pleasingly ambiguous ending. It was referenced in novels more than any other by the detective writers of the golden age, and did a great deal to shape the genre as we know it today.
This is the story of Dr Crippen.
Find more information about this episode and links to the books discussed at shedunnitshow.com/crippen. The podcast is on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and you can find it in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next episode. Click here to do that in your app of choice.
Books referenced in order of appearance:
—Walter Dew: The Man Who Caught Crippen by Nicholas Connell
—Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie
—The Wychford Poisoning Case by Anthony Berkeley
—Mrs McGinty’s Dead by Agatha Christie
—Malice Aforethought by Frances Iles (aka Anthony Berkeley)
—The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards
—“The Lernean Hydra” in The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie
—The Case with Nine Solutions by J. J. Connington
—The House That Berry Built by Dornford Yates
—Henbane by Catherine Meadows
—Dancing for the Hangman by Martin Edwards
You can find a full transcript of this episode at shedunnitshow.com/crippentranscript.
After the First World War, there was a great flowering of female independence as more women chose to live single lives. This change, and the backlash to it, is all there to be found in the murder mysteries of the period, if you just dig a little below the surface. From self-contained, professional women like Mary Whittaker in Dorothy L Sayers’ Unnatural Death to dear, fluffy Miss Marple, there are a multitude of single women’s lives to discover.
But let’s go back to the beginning. This particular story starts with the surplus women.
Find more information about this episode and links to the books discussed at shedunnitshow.com/surpluswomen. The podcast is on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and you can find it in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next episode. Click here to do that in your app of choice.
—Rosemary Cresswell, senior lecturer in global history at the University of Hull. Follow her on Twitter @RosieCresswell.
—Camilla Nelson, associate professor of writing at the University of Notre Dame Australia.
—A field guide to spinsters in English fiction
—‘Surplus women’: a legacy of World War One?
—Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After the First World War by Virginia Nicholson.
—The Shadow of Marriage by Katherine Holden
—Unnatural Death by Dorothy L Sayers
You can find a full transcript of this episode at shedunnitshow.com/surpluswomentranscript.
For a couple of decades between the first and second world wars, something mysterious happened. A golden age of detective fiction dawned, and people around the world are still devouring books from this time by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, Margery Allingham, Anthony Berkeley, Gladys Mitchell, Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey and more. In this new podcast, Caroline Crampton will be unravelling the mysteries behind such classic detective stories, looking at the social, literary and political context in which these writers worked. If you’ve ever stayed up late reading under the covers to find out whodunnit, then this podcast is for you.
Find the show at shedunnitshow.com, on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the first episode. Click here to do that now in your app of choice.
You can find a full transcript of this mini episode at shedunnitshow.com/whodunnittranscript.