Arthur Conan Doyle first started writing detective stories from as early as 1859 in Victorian times. He and many others pioneered a genre of fiction that remains among the most popular today (Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, J. S. Le Fanu). His writing continued till The First World War and so reflects the world of the 19th Century rather then this one. From the rise of large cities in the 1800s new city dwellers started to become fascinated by crime and started to romanticize as well as read about crime.
The idea of detection and the figure of the detective that would eventually stand at the centre of the genre were introduced in the early 19th century by a Frenchman, Francois-Eugene Vidocq. When Vidocq’s memoirs were published in France in 1828, they were immediately popular and translated into English. Interest in England in “crime stories” blended with a strong, existing genre called the Gothic novel.
The Gothic influence is said to account for the dark settings, unfathomable motivations, and preoccupation with brilliant or unexpected solutions in the detective genre. Among English writers, Vidocq most influenced Charles Dickens, who created the first famous detective in English fiction, Inspector Bucket in “Bleak House”. In the United States, Edgar Allen Poe read Dickens and Vidocq. In five stories written between 1840 and 1845, Poe laid out the basics of the detective story.
In “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Poe introduced his eccentric detective, C. Auguste Dupin, whose solutions were chronicled by an amiable narrator. Dupin successfully solved the crime by taking a step further and reading the evidence in a different manner then the police. This clearly shows us the importance of observing any change that may have been overlooked and looking into each piece of evidence as an important factor in the case.
In England by contrast, the detective genre underwent a more analytic, stylised development, exemplified in the work of Arthur Conan Doyle. His study in scarlet (1887) introduced the sturdy Watson and the decayed aesthete Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle adopted Poe’s formulae, cut his elaborate introductions, restating them in conversational exchanges between his two chief characters, and emphasised Poe’s least realistic feature: the ‘deduction’ of astonishing conclusions from trifling clues.