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The 1870s Crime Writer Who Pioneered Modern Detective Fiction

Novelist Anna Katharine Green, top left, and her late 1800s novels like "The Leavenworth Case" and "Marked Personal" created the template of modern detective fiction.
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Novelist Anna Katharine Green, top left, and her late 1800s novels like "The Leavenworth Case" and "Marked Personal" created the template of modern detective fiction.

You may have never heard of the novelist Anna Katharine Green. But if you’ve ever read a detective novel, or followed the sleuthing exploits of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple or even Inspector Gamache—you’ve been enjoying the countless authors who followed in Green’s footsteps.

Born in New York City, Green went to college in Poultney, Vermont, earning her bachelor's in the 1860s. She went on write dozens of novels, 20 of which feature Inspector Ebenezer Gryce, a detective solving cases in the pages of Green's novels nearly a decade before Sherlock Holmes appeared on the page.

Green also made Brattleboro and fictional Vermont towns central to her 1879 novel, A Strange Disappearance.

Read Anna Katharine Green's novel A Strange Disappearance for free at Project Gutenberg

Claire Meldrum, a professor at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, has taught a course on detective fiction for years and has made research into Green the focus of a research project being honored by the Vermont Historical Society.

Meldrum joins Vermont Edition to talk about what innovations Green brought to the genre of detective fiction and her research into the author's place in the literary canon of detective fiction.

Broadcast live on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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