4 remarkable facts about the world’s first detective
- The word ‘detective’ was invented less than 200 years ago...by a crime writer.
The writer Edgar Allen Poe is the first person known to use the word ‘detective’, in his story, ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’ in 1841. Two years later, Sir James Graham selected some of the most intelligent officers in the London Police and formed them into ‘the detective police’, which saw the word officially adopted into the English language.
2. Sherlock Holmes is usually considered the first great detective, when he emerged in 1887. However, Edgar Allen Poe's detective, C. Auguste Dupin in the ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’, actually paved the way for Holmes over 40 years earlier. Many of that detective’s skills - along with his personality - set the bar for future 'genius' detectives such as Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot: the eccentric but brilliant detective, who focuses like a card player on the quality of the observation. Dupin, like Holmes, is also not a professional detective: he decides to investigate the murders in the Rue Morgue for his personal amusement.
Poe created the standard for other key features of the detective story: the personal friend as narrator; the final revelation being presented before the reasoning that leads up to it. Poe also shows the police in an unsympathetic manner, to make the detective look good.
3. The plot of ‘Murders in the Rue Morge’ had the first detective Dupin solving the first locked room mystery in detective fiction.
4. In a plot that could be straight out of a modern Sci Fi blockbuster such ‘Stranger Things’, Dupin sought out what appears to be a ‘non-human’ murderer. Poe was likely inspired by the crowd reaction to an orangutan on display at the Masonic Hall in Philadelphia in July 1839.
We hope you feel enlightened!