Arthur Morrison Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Arthur Morrison’s numerous tales of detection, including four volumes of Martin Hewitt stories, helped to create a transition between Sherlock Holmes and later hard-boiled detectives. Critics generally see Morrison’s Hewitt as a more realistic and therefore believable offshoot of the Sherlock Holmes character, devoid of the Holmesian eccentricity and imperiousness that mar the sleuths of Morrison’s competitors, such as Jacques Futrelle.

Beyond merely recounting processes of detection, Morrison offers reflective commentary on working-class dilemmas and other issues with political implications. His nondetective fiction, such as Tales of Mean Streets (1894) and A Child of the Jago (1896), often focuses on themes of class struggle.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

“Arthur Morrison.” In Late-Victorian and Edwardian British Novelists, edited by George M. Johnson. 2d series. Detroit: Gale Research, 1999. Discusses Morrison’s work in terms of its distinctive cultural and historical moment and its role in the transition between Victorian and Edwardian culture.

Brome, Vincent. Four Realist Novelists: Arthur Morrison, Edwin Pugh, Richard Whiteing, William Pett Ridge. London: Longmans, Green, 1965. Study of realism in the British novel and the role of realism in Morrison’s detective fiction.

Haycraft, Howard, ed. The Art of the Mystery Story: A Collection of Critical Essays. Reprint. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1983. Massive compendium of essays exploring all aspects of the mystery writer’s craft. Sheds light on Morrison’s writings.

Keating, P. J. “Arthur Morrison.” In A Child of the Jago, edited by P. J. Keating. London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1969. Keating’s biographical essay was written to accompany this reprint of Morrison’s novel.

Kestner, Joseph A. The Edwardian Detective, 1901-1915. Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate, 2000. This tightly focused reading of fifteen years of British detective fiction is useful for understanding the transitional nature of Morrison’s work.

Pritchett, V. S. “An East End Novelist.” In The Living Novel and Later Appreciations. Rev. ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1967. Profile and critical study of Morrison.

Swafford, Kevin. Class in Late-Victorian Britain: The Narrative Concern with Social Hierarchy and Its Representation. Youngstown, N.Y.: Cambria Press, 2007. Includes a chapter comparing the representation of the slums in Morrison’s A Child of the Jago to that in W. Somerset Maugham’s Liza of Lambeth.