The so-called Golden Age of mystery novels is generally regarded as the period between World Wars I and II, which encompassed all of the 1920’s and 1930’s. During that period that the conventions of the mystery genre were established. At first, the Golden Age was dominated by British writers. Three British women and one New Zealander woman, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh—were so influential that they became known as the “Queens of Crime.” American writers of what are sometimes called “classical” mysteries, works that bowed to these conventions, emerged during the mid-1920’s. American writers, however, soon found themselves in competition with writers from the realistic, “hard-boiled” school of mystery writing. Although the hard-boiled mystery was popular in the United States, especially among male readers, works of that kind were not read in Great Britain in any significant numbers until the late 1930’s, and even then they did not capture the interest of the reading public as soon as they had in America.
It is often pointed out that the Golden Age of the mystery novel was preceded by a golden age of the mystery short story, which began with Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation of Sherlock Holmes in 1887. According to critic Julian Symons, the short-story genre continued to flourish during the 1920’s and the 1930’s, dying out only as magazines became less interested in publishing short stories,...
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