Queens of Crime

12-13 June 2014

Institute of English Studies, Senate House, University of London

Keynote Speakers: Val McDermid, Dr Lee Horsley

Since the 1920s, women have been among the most prolific and influential authors of crime fiction. Some of the best-known heroes and anti-heroes of fiction are also women.  From pioneers in the genre, such as Anna Katherine Green and the Baroness Orczy, through Golden Age queens of crime, like Agatha Christie (for whom the term was invented), Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham, to the innovators of the present day, including Sara N. Paretsky, Val McDermid, and Kate Atkinson, the female of the species has been more deadly than the male.

This conference will address the relationship of gender and genre, past and present, and the known and the unknown.  Many Queens of Crime are famous and much-studied, but their work continues to inspire fresh scholarship and novel perspectives. Others are continually in print but have not received equal academic attention. Some are too new in the field to have been thoroughly considered. Some have been unjustly forgotten.


£60 Standard

£45: IES Friends/Speakers/Students/Concessions

£5: for those who would like to attend the Friday evening authors panel only.  Open to the public.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided on both days.



09:00 Registration: Grand Lobby, 1st Floor, Senate House, Malet Street WC1E 7HU
10:00 Welcome: Chancellor's Hall
10:15 Parallel Panels

Back to the Beginning

Chair: Linda Ledford-Miller

Sylvia Brown: “From Amatory Fiction to Sensation Fiction: The Patchwork Affair of Aphra Behn’s ‘The History of the Nun, or The Fair Vow Breaker’ and Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret

Christopher Pittard: “Catherine Louisa Pirkis and the Victorian Question of the Animal”

Stacey Margolis: “The Mistaken Detective: Anna Katharine Green and the Rise of Naturalism”

The One and Only

Chair: Kim Maslin

Stuart Barnet: "Ideology, Class and the Challenge of BiÔÇÉTextuality in Agatha Christie’s Dead Man’s Folly”

Fred Porcheddu: “The Surrogate Impulse in Agatha Christie’s Nemesis”

Amrita Bandopadhyay: “'Whilst I seem to you idle, I am reflecting’: Domesticity, Introspection and Resolution in Agatha Christie’s Crime Fiction”

11.45 Tea Break

Keynote Speaker: Val McDermid: "Travelling in the Realms of Gold: Why Tradition Matters"

13:30 Lunch
14:30 Parallel Panels


Chair: Karen Ferriera-Meyers

Maria Vara: “Queens of Crime in ‘the Second Degree’”

Jennifer Schnabel: “The Influence of Fathers on Female Detectives in the Works of Anna Katherine Green”

Margaret Kinsman: “‘Gabriella’s Voice Returned’: Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski Thinks Back through her Mother’”

Men and Women and Detection

Chair: Karen Seago

Emma Grundy Haigh: "The Secret Agency of Partnership in Helen MacInnes’s Above Suspicion”

Erin Horakova: “Epithalamion: Dangerous Domesticity in the Wimsey Series”

Alessia Risi: “Quo Vadis, Baby? Analysing Female Identities in Grazia Verasani’s Crime Narrative”

16:00 Tea Break
16:30 Parallel Panels

Refiguring the Golden Age

Chair: Erin Horakova

John Curran: “Gone and Undeservedly Forgotten: Three Queens of Crime”

Margaret Wiedemann Hunt: “Sayers’s Work in Progress: ‘The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man With No Face’”

Jane Custance Baker: “Stitched Up: How Queens of Crime used Tweed to Express a New Masculinity between the Wars”

Violence, Grotesque, and Interpretation

Chair: Joanna Stolarek

Cathrine Avery: “Violence as an Expression of Female Identity in the Hard-Boiled Detective Novel”

Pamela Burger: “Reading People's Pain: The Pleasure of Violence in Women's Crime Fiction”

Maria Jose Alvarez Maurin: “The Girl Who Tattooed the Nordic Neo-noir: Goth, Cyberpunk and Sleuth”

18:30 Conference Dinner
10:00 Parallel Panels

Gender and Criminality

Chair: Uros Tomic

Ritu Pareek: “Crime as Retribution in Angela Carter’s Short Stories”

Lisa Stead: “Three-Fingered Kate and the Case of Jean Rhys: The Other Woman, Criminality and Intermediality”

Maysaa Jaber: “Rereading the Femme Fatale: The Battle over Agency in Mildred Pierce


Chair: Brittain Bright

Isabell Grosse: “Toppling the Golden Age Queens of Crime from their Throne – L.C. Tyler’s Parodies of Agatha Christie”

Mary Kilcline Cody: “Re-writing and Re-appropriating the Past: The Letter, W. Somerset Maugham and Me”

Karen Seago: “‘Philip Marlowe in Drag?’ – The Construct of the Hard-Boiled Detective in Feminist Appropriation and in Translation”

Femininity in Contemporary Detective Fiction

Chair: Linda Stratmann

Smita Verghese: “What’s Cooking Today?: Discovering the Recipe of Detective Fiction”

Donna Fletcher Crow: “Creating Heroic Heroines, or, The Joys of Starch in the Backbone”

Linda Ledford-Miller: “Gender Roles In Death: J.D. Robb’s Detective Series”

11:30 Tea Break
11.45 Keynote Speaker - Dr Lee Horsley: "Dangerous Women: The Protagonists of Psychological Noir, 1945-2014"
13:15 Lunch
14:15 Parallel Panels

New Boundaries, New Possiblities

Chair: Michal Moscow

Ayo Onatade: “Who Wears the Crown - Contenders for the Crown of Queens of Crime”

Giorgia Alcini: “Gianna Baltaro. The Pedimontese Agatha Christie”

Hend Alsudairy: “The Crime of the Elite: Saja Visit”

Karen Ferreira-Meyers: “African Queens of Crime Writing”

Translation and Appropriation

Chair: Lisa Stead

Uros Tomic: “Guilty Sins of the Bourgeoisie: Ruth Rendell in French Cinema”

Lindsey Seatter: “Replacing John with Joan: a Exploration of a Rising ‘Queen of Crime’”

Chrissie Poulter: “’Always sweep in the corners!’: The Removal of Domestic Clues and the Domestic Class in Agatha Christie's Poirot “

Joanna Stolarek: “Between Suspense and Psychological Thriller: The Examination of Criminal Intrigue, the Psychology of Guilt and Abnormal Human Behaviour in Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train and The Ripliad“

16:15 Tea Break
16:30 Parallel Panels

Reading and Writing Women

Chair: Margaret Kinsman

Danuta Reah— “Feminist Readings in Crime Fiction”

Kimberly Maslin—“Writing a Woman Detective, Re-inventing a Genre: Carolyn Heilbrun”

Alison Joseph— “Can a fictional detective ever be wrong? Faith, Doubt and Resolution in the Sister Agnes Series”

Writing the Past

Chair: Donna Fletcher Crow

Linda Stratmann: “Fact and/or Fiction?”

Mirandi Riwoe: “The Female Sleuth: Representations of 19th Century and Contemporary Female Sleuths from a Neo-Victorian Perspective”

Michal Moskow: “The Queen’s Mothers: Sara Paretsky’s V.I., Gabriella, Lotty and Narrating the Holocaust”

18:00 Closing Remarks & drinks
18:30 PUBLIC EVENT: Writers' panel discussion with Jessica Mann, Kate Rhodes and Alanna Knight

Jessica Mann is the author of 21 crime novels and four non-fiction books; she has been writing about independent women since the 1970s, when her publisher complained that her books were “too feminist”.  Reviews of her most recent novel, Dead Woman Walking, featuring Dr Fidelis Berlin, have called it  a “novel of ideas, about feminism, family and literature” and also “enthralling, engaging and hugely entertaining”.  Jessica is also a journalist, broadcaster and book reviewer, contributing a monthly crime fiction column to The Literary Review.

Alanna Knight MBE has published more than seventy books in all genres since her first award-winning novel in 1969.  She is best known for her historical crime novels, but has also written true crime, non-fiction titles on R L Stevenson, and numerous short stories, as well as stage and radio plays. She lives in Edinburgh, is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, a founder member and Hon. President of the Scottish Association of Writers and the Ediburgh Writers’ Club. Her MBE was awarded in 2013 for services to literature.

Kate Rhodes was born in London and now lives in Cambridge. She published two volumes of poetry before starting to write the Alice Quentin crime series, published by Mulholland. The first novel, Crossbones Yard, received critical acclaim when it was published in 2012. The second book in the series, A Killing of Angels was published in 2013, and The Winter Foundlings is due for publication in August 2014. Kate was shortlisted for the Ruth Rendell prize in 2014.


The School of Advanced Study is part of the central University of London. The School takes its responsibility to visitors with special needs very seriously and will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments to its facilities in order to accommodate the needs of such visitors. If you have a particular requirement, please feel free to discuss it confidentially with the organiser in advance of the event taking place.

General Enquiries: Events Officer, Institute of English Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU; tel +44 (0) 207 664 4859 +44 (0) 207 664 4859; Email: IESEvents@sas.ac.uk