Fri, 14 May 2021
Why does Old Jones insist that anyone who sees The Phantom Hearse stop outside their place of an evening, will die within the week? Mary Fortune, today on The Classic Tales Podcast.
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Today’s story is written by one of the pioneers of detective fiction – Mary Helena Fortune. She travelled from Canada to Australia in 1855, where for the next fifty years, she contributed to magazines and newspapers under the pseudonyms “Waif Wanderer”, “W.W.”and her own initials “M.H.F.”. She wrote in a variety of genres: poetry, serialized novels, memoirs, and even gothic romance. But most significantly, she wrote over 500 detective stories. Her collection of stories, The Detective’s Album, by W.W. was published in 1871, and was described as, “The first book of detective stories to appear in Australia”. Only one copy is known to remain in existence.
Mary Fortune helped delineate a few of the techniques significant in detective fiction. For example, the forensic manner in which the crime is treated, and delivering the story from the point of view of the detective. Today’s story also includes a supernatural element, which is also innovative, and synchronous with some Russian crime fiction.
And now, The Phantom Hearse, by Mary Fortune.