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Faculty in Focus Dr Clare Clarke on Sherlock, Crime, and Detective Fiction

17 November 2020 - The Trinity Long Room Hub’s new Faculty in Focus series featured Dr Clare Clarke of Trinity’s School of English in conversation with Professor Eve Patten, Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub.

“I have always been a fan of crime fiction. I think, like a lot of us, I grew up watching Poirot on a Sunday evening with my mum, and Charlie Chan with my grandparents”, commented Dr Clare Clarke as she highlighted her long standing interest in the genre and her most recent book, British Detective Fiction, 1891-1901: The Successors to Sherlock Holmes.

As part of a new online Faculty in Focus format launched by the Hub this week, attendees were treated to a special reading from Dr Clarke’s new book by Professor Darryl Jones, a scholar of popular literature studies at Trinity College Dublin, who has also published on Arthur Conan Doyle.

Professor Jones and Dr Clarke are also the course directors of the recently launched M.Phil. in Modern and Contemporary Literary Studies at Trinity’s School of English.
In the period between completing her undergraduate degree and beginning her master’s at Queens University Belfast seven years later, Dr Clarke said that “crime fiction had suddenly become a legitimate area of study for academics” in a way it never had been before.

A module on 1890s fiction as part of her master’s led her to fall in love with this period. “I started to write about Sherlock and the Gothic and all of those wonderful things that happened in 1890s literature.”

Dr Clarke’s first book, Late Victorian Crime Fiction in the Shadows of Sherlock was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014 and in 2015 won the H.R.F. Keating Award for best non-fiction crime book of the year. Exploring how Sherlock was captivated by criminality, Dr Clarke said that similar stories from this period show almost a “celebration of the criminal.”

As the detective crime genre continues to fascinate in popular media, so too does Sherlock Holmes and new adaptions of the fiction series, including the most recent Netflix film featuring Holmes’ sister as protagonist, something which Dr Clarke recently wrote about in the Irish Independent.   

Earlier this year, Dr Clarke was awarded the Provost’s Project PhD Award for a fully-funded four-year project “Situation Sherlock: mapping space and place in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.’ The award comprises the student’s full tuition fees (EU or non-EU) and an annual stipend. The “Situating Sherlock” project charts places and locations in the Sherlock Holmes stories published in The Strand Magazine between 1891 and 1927, identifying and recording geographical patterns in order to create a series of open-access digital maps and geo-visualisations of the spaces and places visited by the tales’ detectives and criminals.

To find out more about Clare and her research, click here.

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