Grant Allen Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Grant Allen wrote what he himself acknowledged to be potboilers. Most of his works appeared in serial form in popular magazines such as the Cornhill and the Strand; they were later republished in collections that revolved around a central character. Of these collections, the most famous is An African Millionaire (1897). Its central character, Colonel Clay, has been called “the first great thief of short mystery fiction.” Besides being the first English writer of “crook fiction,” a type of inverted crime story, Allen may have been the first writer to make use of female sleuths: Miss Cayley, in Miss Cayley’s Adventures (1899), and Hilda Wade, in the novel named for her (1900).


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Donaldson, Norman. Introduction to An African Millionaire: Episodes in the Life of the Illustrious Colonel Clay. New York: Dover, 1980. Donaldson describes Clay as the first important rogue character in the short-story crime genre.

Greenslade, William, and Terence Rodgers, eds. Grant Allen: Literature and Cultural Politics at the Fin de Siècle. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2005. Collection of scholarly essays detailing Allen’s relationship to fin-de-siècle British culture.

Morton, Peter. The Busiest Man in England: Grant Allen and the Writing Trade, 1875-1900. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. The first critical biography of Allen in a century, this book attempts to solve the mystery of why Allen, a member of a wealthy family, was dependent on his writing to support himself. Discusses not only Allen’s life but also freelance authorship and journalism in Victorian England. Bibliographic references and index.

Morton, Peter, comp. Grant Allen, 1848-1899: A Bibliography. St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 2002. This comprehensive bibliography is indispensable for serious students of Allen.

Roth, Marty. Foul and Fair Play: Reading Genre in Classic Detective Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995. A post-structural analysis of the conventions of mystery and detective fiction. Examines 138 short stories and works from the 1840’s to the 1960’s. Briefly mentions Allen and helps place him in context.

Schantz, Tom, and Enid Schantz. “Editors’ Note.” In The Reluctant Hangman, and Other Stories of Crime. Boulder, Colo.: Aspen Press, 1973. Useful commentary on the three stories contained in this special, limited edition that includes the original illustrations from the Strand magazine.