Victorian Lady Detectives – Loveday Brooke.

The murderof old Sandy.

Loveday Brooke was sent to work undercover to investigate the murder of old Sandy.

Loveday Brooke is a genuine Victorian lady detective.  By that, I mean that she was created in the Victorian period by Catherine Louisa Pirkis.  Many of the different adventures (The Black Bag Left On a Doorstep; The Murder at Troyte’s Hill; The Redhill Sisterhood; A Princess’s Vengeance; Drawn Daggers and The Ghost of Fountain Lane) were first published in the Ludgate Monthly in 1893.  In 1894, these stories and Missing were put together to produce the book, The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective which was Pirkis’s fourteenth and last book.

The stories have been criticized because there is no character development with Loveday but it is important to take into consideration that atmosphere and plot or solving the puzzle are what make these stories work and, for me, the fact that that we know little about Loveday makes the stories all the more intriguing.

So what do we know about Loveday?  She dresses in black and is “almost Quaker like”in her attire.  She is of average height, medium colouring and nondescript looking.  We know that when she is concentrating she droops her eyelids over her eyes until she seems to be peering out through slits.  In essence, Loveday is perfect for going undercover and not being noticed.  We also know that poverty was beckoning to her like the grim reaper but she did not meekly follow it, no, she laughed in the face of Victorian society and re-invented herself by finding work in a Fleet Street agency.  There have been criticisms that we do not know why Loveday suddenly faced poverty.  Again, I feel that as I read the stories, this makes her more mysterious, like the later Albert Campion by Margery Allingham.  In effect, Loveday Brooke is somewhat an enigma and that is one of the reasons why the stories the stories work.

Another winning factor for me with Loveday is that she uses logic to solve the crimes instead of relying on feminine wiles as women often have to do in fiction for some strange reason.  In The Murder at Troyte’s Hill, Griffiths of the Newcastle Constabulary is asking Loveday to explain one or two things about the case to him.

“Put your questions to me in categorical order,” said Loveday.

For women and men the world over who wince at the stereotypical dotty female portrayed in fiction; this has to be a triumph and it was actually written in the Victorian era which makes it all the more delicious.

For anyone who loves the atmosphere of the Victorian era and the female detective, I would suggest that you lose yourselves in the atmosphere of The Murder at Troyte’s Hill ( by following this link) in which Loveday goes to work undercover in the country house.

What do you think – does Loveday Brooke work for you as a Victorian lady detective?


Filed under Victorian Detective., Victorian Detectives.

25 responses to “Victorian Lady Detectives – Loveday Brooke.

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  2. I always so love to hear of female characters who are going against the grain of what’s expected of them! It must have been so very hard for women in those times – I think if I lived then I would have been locked up as a lunatic as I could not contain myself within such rigid behavioural boundaries – never mind the corsets! 🙂

    • I know what you mean, I really do. I really have enjoyed Loveday Brooke. Talking of the clothes – when I dress up in my costumes, I have to be careful all the time of falling, they are hateful to have to doing anything in them, I honestly do not know how they coped.

  3. I am unfamiliar with this character or the series, but I love the idea of a woman sleuth in the Victorian period. It’s too bad there was no character development (just going off what you have in your post here, as I haven’t read any of the books). Because I think that would have been interesting considering the idea of a lady detective in that time period is probably uncommon?

    • I think that the lack of character development might be due to the fact that they are all short stories and also so that Loveday remains an enigma. You will be surprised that there are a few of these ladies about and even more surprised when I tell you that the next one I am going to post about was actually created and written by a man – a Victorian man writing with a woman as a detective – wow!

  4. I’m keeping Loveday’s story for Christmas reading, if you don’t mind. Thank you so much for bringing her to my attention, she sounds great fun to read.

    • I hope you enjoy it, I found it really atmospheric and I liked Loveday. I hope you do also.

      • Have you read anything else by the same author? Do other books also lack character development or just the lady detective?

      • No, I haven’t so I can’t comment on that, the problem is finding some of these books – you will have come across this – certain writers from the Victorian period e.g. Charles Dickens and the Brontes can be picked up anywhere and cheaply but certain writers, who incidentally just were just as popular, and in some cases more so, their books are quite expensive to buy.

      • Yes, one has to go through specialist dealers in some cases. Ah well, if I do come across them I’ll let you know. the Google Guttenberg project might put some online for free.

      • Yes, I will have a look at that because I am researching quite a few of them but the cost of the books is limiting me at times, it means that I can only read a few short stories of each one.

  5. I’ve never heard of either of them, the author or the detective… I must investigate, Watson!
    Great post, by the way!

    • Get investigating Sherlock – it is quite amazing the amount of Victorian writers who were really popular in their day and yet most of us now haven’t heard of them and only find them through research.

      • … and some of them are really good, you wonder why they have slipped from popularity or even from memory!

      • I totally agree Lois, I love 2Lady Audley’s Secre”t which is such a page turner, it has now become much more well known because it is studied on degree courses – before that, it also was very popular in its time but then unknown until it was studied.

      • After Christmas I must get some recommendations from you

      • I’ve just seen my “Lady Audley’s Secret” message to you I shouldn’t type when I’m on my way to bed, it ends up full of mistakes. I would start off with “Lady Audley’s Secret” because you can pick this up quite cheaply because it has become more popular – there are holes in it which writers today wouldn’t get away with but apart from that it is a complete and utter page turner.

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  10. hg mathis

    As near as I can figure out, there is only one book containing the six short stories. They are well written. One of Loveday’s traits is that she is a hard worker. In one of the stories, and I forget which one, she says, “I believe that we hard workers, after a time, lose our capacity for holiday keeping.”

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