Austen and Shakespeare, Detectives

  • Lisa Hopkins


This chapter discusses the cultural uses of Shakespeare and Austen in detective fiction, including stories in which Shakespeare and Austen themselves become detectives (Stephanie Barron’s Austen Mysteries), stories which purport to find a lost Shakespeare or Austen text (Edmund Crispin’s Love Lies Bleeding, A. J. Hartley’s What Time Devours) and stories which allude to or imitate an existing Shakespeare or Austen text (Reginald Hill’s Pictures of Perfection and A Cure for All Diseases, P. D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley). There are similarities and differences between them: in Austen-themed stories, America represents freedom; in Shakespeare mysteries it is a threat. Austen is associated with love and Shakespeare is not, and Austen-based crime tends to be more easily assimilated into the category of what is now called ‘cosy crime’, whereas Shakespeare-based crime fiction may have some very dark purposes indeed. All these differences, this chapter concludes, suggest that Austen, more than Shakespeare, is nowadays often understood as a brand, while Shakespeare tends to be regarded as the author of individual, but different, works of genius spanning a variety of genres.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Hopkins
    • 1
  1. 1.Sheffield Hallam UniversitySheffieldUK

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