William Le Queux Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

William Le Queux was one of the earliest authors of espionage fiction; he strongly influenced the direction of the genre for nearly twenty-five years. In writing more than one hundred novels dealing primarily with political intrigue and spying, he anticipated almost every development of the spy story until the writings of Eric Ambler. Yet because he was reputed to have been a member of the British secret service for a number of years, his works are somewhat difficult to assess: Le Queux’s lively and vivid imagination makes it hard to distinguish between his factual and fictional writings; he was not at all reluctant to embellish a situation and present it as historical fact. During the early part of his career, Le Queux warned of a Continental invasion of England. As a result, his early novels were extremely popular for their topicality and sensationalism.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Hitz, Frederick P. The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004. A former inspector general of the Central Intelligence Agency compares famous fictional spies and spy stories to real espionage agents and case studies to demonstrate that truth is stranger than fiction. Provides perspective and a way of analyzing Le Queux’s work.

Höglund, Johan A. Mobilising the Novel: The Literature of Imperialism and the First World War. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University Library, 1997. Discusses imperialist ideology in Le Queux’s work of the World War I period.

Panek, LeRoy L. “William Le Queux.” In The Special Branch: The British Spy Novel, 1890-1980. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1981. Scholarly study of British espionage thrillers geared toward the nonscholar and written by a major critic in the academic study of mystery and detective fiction; sheds light on Le Queux’s work.

Sladen, N. St.-Barbe. The Real Le Queux: The Official Biography of William Le Queux. London: Nicholson and Watson, 1938. Biography of Le Queux authorized by his estate, with all the benefits and pitfalls such authorization entails.

Watson, Colin. “De Rigueur at Monte.” In Snobbery with Violence: Crime Stories and Their Audience. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1979. Study of the representation of snobbery within espionage and other crime fiction (especially in the tastes of major characters and their reactions to exotic settings and high culture), as well as of the snobbery of the fiction’s audience.