The British Library publishes the first detective novel… The Notting Hill Mystery

‘Is that chain one of purely accidental coincidence, or does it point with terrible certainty to a series of crimes, in their nature and execution too horrible to contemplate?’

- Ralph Henderson, narrator

The British Library has today published The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix, widely considered to be the first detective novel ever published. Originally serialised between 1862 and 1863 in the magazine Once a Week and then published as a single volume in 1863, The Notting Hill Mystery has not been commercially available since then, until now.

For years, many considered the first detective novel to be Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone, published in 1868, while others have proposed Emile Gaboriau’s first Monsieur Lecoq novel, L’Affaire Lerouge. However, The Notting Hill Mystery can truly claim to be the first modern detective novel and pre-dates both of these by several years.

Presented in the form of diary entries, family letters, chemical analysis reports, interviews with witnesses and a crime scene map, the novel displays innovative techniques that would not become common features of detective fiction until the 1920s.

The Notting Hill Mystery features insurance investigator, Ralph Henderson, who is building a case against the sinister Baron ‘R___’, suspected of murdering his wife in order to obtain significant life insurance payments. During his methodical investigation, Henderson encounters a maze of intrigue including a diabolical mesmerist, kidnapping by gypsies, slow-poisoners, a rich uncle’s will and three murders.

The British Library has made this landmark text available once again in a trade edition. This new edition also includes George du Maurier’s illustrations, the first edition to do so since the original publication in serial form.


Notes to Editors:

Charles Warren Adams wrote under the pseudonym Charles Felix. He was a journalist, traveller, lawyer, and the sole proprietor of the firm Saunders, Otley & Co as well as the author of Barefooted Birdie and Velvet Lawn.

The Notting Hill Mystery is published by the British Library Publishing, 21 February 2012, price £8.99 / ISBN 9780712358590, 198 x 130 mm, 312 pages http://publishing.bl.uk/

The Notting Hill Mystery is available to buy from the British Library shop www.bl.uk/shop (T +44 (0)20 7412 7735 / email bl_shop@bl.uk )

For more information contact:


The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.  



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