Anna Katharine Green Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Although Anna Katharine Green was neither the first woman to publish crime fiction nor the first American to write a detective novel, her efforts were taken as distinctive advances in a genre that had only begun to emerge as a separate literary form. Many of the features with which mystery devotees were to become familiar were utilized in her works. With the wise and methodical detective as a pivotal figure, clues and evidence were adroitly dispersed about her narrative, and from a relatively small number of suspects, solutions that were startling and yet plausible were reached. Many of Green’s novels concerned family crises, where secret marriages, scheming relatives, or missing persons added poignant notes of lurking intrigues; her works were constructed systematically, around factual questions, clearly differentiating themselves from the novels of the mid-Victorian period. Affinities with gothic fiction arose here and there, where Green suggested ghosts and strange footfalls, but these signs became explicable in all cases when crimes and other secrets were laid open. For some time early in her life, Green had written Romantic poetry, and the atmosphere and overtones associated with that genre probably impart some melodramatic qualities to her detective novels. While several influences seem to converge in her work, Green’s crime fiction also promoted relatively new forms of evidence and reasoning.

Particular mention should be made of early reactions...

(The entire section is 425 words.)


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

DuBose, Martha Hailey, with Margaret Caldwell Thomas. Women of Mystery: The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists. New York: St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2000. Examines the life and work of Green, noting how the success of The Leavenworth Case launched her career. Discusses her in relation to other writers of the time.

Harkins, E. F. “Anna Katharine Green.” In Famous Authors (Women). Boston: L. C. Page, 1906. Green is profiled alongside other women who wrote books that were famous at the turn of the twentieth century.

Hayne, Barrie. “Anna Katharine Green.” In Ten Women of Mystery, edited by Earl F. Bargainnier. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1981. Compares Green’s work to that of nine of her fellow female mystery writers, including Mary Roberts Reinhart and Josephine Tey.

Huang, Jim, ed. They Died In Vain: Overlooked, Underappreciated, and Forgotten Mystery Novels. Carmel, Ind.: Crum Creek Press, 2002. Green is among the authors discussed in this book about mystery novels that never found the audience they deserved.

Maida, Patricia D. Mother of Detective Fiction: The Life and Works of Anna Katharine Green. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1989. Monograph delving into the biography and fiction of Green, written by a scholar but aimed at a popular audience. Bibliographic references and index.

Murch, A. E. “Women Writers of Detective Fiction in the Nineteenth Century.” In The Development of the Detective Novel. New York: Philosophical Library, 1958. Emphasizes Green’s role as both a trailblazing female author and a significant innovator of an emergent genre.