Crime and Crime Fiction

Why was crime such a popular subject in 19th-century fiction? How did literature balance fear, social commentary and entertainment? This theme traces the development of crime fiction from penny dreadfuls’ and the Victorian criminal underworld through to the enduring popularity of Sherlock Holmes.

Sensationalised crime

The rise of detective fiction

'Penny dreadfuls'

Murder as entertainment

Crime and poverty in Oliver Twist

Jack the Ripper

The world's greatest detective