Typical of detective fiction at the time, Forrester's book features various cases narrated by the 'original lady detective', 'Miss Gladden', where she applies her considerable energy and intelligence to solve crimes. 'G', as she is often referred to, enters crime scenes incognito, tracking down killers while trying to conceal her own tracks and her identity from others. For all the intrigue and interest of the stories, little is ever revealed about Gladden herself, and her personal circumstances remain a mystery throughout.
The book is well ahead of its time in the history of detective fiction since and there were no other novels featuring female detectives until the turn of the century. Miss Gladden's character itself is pioneering – when The Female Detective was first published there were no official female detectives in Britain and no women police officers either.
The book is a 17th century manual intended to explain the Bible and to teach young people how to speak and write more elegantly and persuasively. Auctioneer John Walker believes it to be the only privately held copy of the book in the world. The value has not yet been established.
When the book was found, during a restoration project in England, the finder thought the book was might be one of the last to be printed in the original St Paul’s Cathedral in London before it was burned in the Great Fire of London. The signature bore the date 1720.
University of South Carolina
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