The Chronological Bibliography of Early Occult Detectives

Click here for A Key to the Chronological Bibliography of Early Occult Detectives. There, you’ll find an explanation for this bibliography’s hyperlinks, the four types of occult detective, and a three-part explanation of how I settled on a definition for occult detective fiction.

Go to the Early 1900s page.

  The 1800s

1817

Doktor K. appeared in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s short story “Das öde Haus,” a part of Nachtstücke. It was translated into English as “The Mystery of the Deserted House” for Hoffmann’s Strange Stories (Boston: Burnham Brothers, 1855, pp. 428-44) and as “The Deserted House” for Library of the World’s Best Mystery and Detective Stories (New York: Review of Reviews, 1907, pp. 131-56). Doktor K. investigates a supernatural mystery as a founding doctor-detective, and he has clairvoyant abilities. Read more about why, despite reservations, this character ultimately qualifies for this bibliography in “Is E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Dr. K. Too Early to Be an Occult Detective?

1840

Dirk Ericson appeared in Henry William Herbert’s short story “The Haunted Homestead,” published in three parts in The Ladies’ Companion and Literary Expositor: “The Murder” (13.8 [Aug., 1840] pp. 185-87), “The Mystery” (13.9 [Sept., 1840] pp. 227-30), and “The Revelation” (13.10 [Oct., 1840] pp. 265-68). The story was reprinted in The Night Season: Lost Tales from the Golden Age of Macabre (Rockville, MD: Wildside, 2012), which was also released as an ebook titled The Macabre Megapack: 25 Lost Tales from the Golden Age by the same publisher. Assisted by Asa and Enoch Allen, Ericson investigates a crime with supernatural elements as a founding novice-detective. Read more about this story and its role in the founding of detective fiction in “Dirk Ericson: America’s First (Occult) Detective?

1855

Harry Escott appeared in Fitz-James O’Brien’s short story “The Pot of Tulips,” published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (11.66 [Nov., 1855] pp. 807-14). Four years later, Escott reappeared in O’Brien’s short story “What Was It? A Mystery,” published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (18.106 [Mar., 1859] pp. 504-10). Both stories are reprinted in Giving Up the Ghosts: Short-Lived Occult Detective Series by Six Renowned Authors (Greenville, OH: Coachwhip Press, 2015), edited by Tim Prasil. Assisted by Jasper Joye in the first story and by Dr. Hammond in the second, Escott investigates supernatural mysteries as a founding specialist-detective.

1859

An unnamed narrator appeared in Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s novella “The Haunted and the Haunters; or, The House and the Brain,” published in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine (86.526 [Aug., 1859] pp. 224-45). It was republished in Bulwer-Lytton’s collection A Strange Story; and the Haunted and the Haunters (London: Routledge, Warne & Routledge, 1864, pp. 325-43), though Bulwer-Lytton edited it to make it seem less like “A Strange Story.” This abridged version often appears in subsequent anthologies, but the original version was republished about fifty years later (Chicago: Rajput, 1911). This character investigates a supernatural mystery as a founding specialist-detective.

1861

An unnamed narrator appeared in Bayard Taylor’s “The Haunted Shanty,” published in Atlantic Monthly (8.45 [July, 1861] pp. 57-72). It was reprinted in Taylor’s collection At Home and Abroad: A Sketch-book of Life, Scenery and Men (New York: Putnam, 1862, pp. 473-509, Second Series). This character investigates a supernatural mystery as a founding novice-detective with some characteristics of a doctor-detective. Read more about this mystery’s lack of final resolution in “Crossing Great Distances: Bayard Taylor’s ‘The Haunted Shanty’.”

1862

Ralph Henderson appeared in Charles Felix’s novel The Notting Hill Mystery, run in eight installments in Once a Week (7 [Nov. 29th, 1862] pp. 617-22; 7 [Dec. 6, 1862] pp. 645-50; 7 [Dec. 13, 1862] pp. 673-78; 7 [Dec. 20, 1862] pp. 701-07; 8 [Dec. 27, 1862] pp. 1-7; 8 [Jan. 3, 1863] pp. 29-35; 8 [Jan. 10, 1863] pp. 57-64; and 8 [Jan. 17, 1863] pp. 85-92.) The novel was then reprinted in one volume (London: Bradbury & Evans, 1863; London: Saunders, Otley, 1865; London: British Library, 2012). The work is often said to be the first mystery novel in the English language. Charles Felix was a pen name used by Charles Warren Adams. Henderson investigates a crime with supernatural elements as a founding novice-detective. Read more about Henderson’s reluctant acceptance of the supernatural in “To Investigate Matters Otherwise Quite Beyond My Province: Charles Felix’s Ralph Henderson.”

1866

Mr. Burton appeared in Seeley Regester’s magazine serial The Dead Letter, run in Beadle’s Monthly. The following year, the novel reappeared in one volume (New York: Beadle, 1867), and much later, it was reprinted with another mystery by Regester in The Dead Letter and the Figure Eight (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003). This work is often said to be the first American mystery novel and the first mystery novel written by a woman. Seeley Regester was a pen name used by Metta Victoria Fuller Victor. Assisted by Richard Redfield, Burton investigates a crime as a founding divining-detective. Read more about this novel in “Reading Mr. Burton: A Review of The Dead Letter.”

1869

Dr. Martin Hesselius appeared in Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s novella “Green Tea,” run in four installments in All the Year Round (citations refer to the journal’s second series: 2.47 [Oct. 23, 1869] pp. 501-04; 2.48 [Oct. 30, 1869] pp. 525-28; 2.49 [Nov. 6, 1869] pp. 548-22; and 2.50 [Nov. 13, 1869] pp. 572-76). Hesselius’s “immense collection of papers” then served as a framing device when “Green Tea” became the first story in Le Fanu’s collection In a Glass Darkly (London: R. Bentley & Son, 1872). The additional works, which do not spotlight Hesselius himself, are “The Familiar,” “Mr. Justice Harbottle,” “The Room in the Dragon Volant,” and “Carmilla.” The collection originally appeared in three volumes — available here, here, and here — and was later republished in one volume (London: Richard Bentley & Son, 1886). Multiple reprints are currently available. Hesselius investigates a supernatural mystery (and collects reports on others) as a founding doctor-detective.

1873

An unnamed narrator appeared in Maurice Davies’ short story “A Night in a Ghost-Chamber,” published in Belgravia 19 (First Series) [Jan., 1873] pp. 377-85. Assisted by Tom Chambers (and others), this character investigates a supernatural mystery as a novice-detective. (Though he admits to having a “weakness for the so-called ‘supernatural’,” his reactions in the title chamber reveal a lack of preparation.)

1874

An unnamed narrator appeared in the anonymous short story “A Needle in a Bottle,” published in Frank Leslie’s Pleasant Hours, Volume 15 (New York: Frank Leslie, 1874, pp. 294-301). This character investigates a supernatural mystery as a doctor-detective, one who is also familiar with cases involving “supernatural agency.” Read more about this character, who broke the mold of the German doctor who investigates the supernatural, in “The First American Doctor-Detective?: The Protagonist of ‘A Needle in a Bottle’.”

1875

Henry Patterson appeared in Mrs. J. H. Riddell’s short novel The Uninhabited House, published in Routledge’s Christmas Annual (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1875). It was then reprinted with another novel by Riddell in The Uninhabited House and The Haunted River (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1883, pp. 9-183; London: Chatto & Windus, 1885). More recently, E. F. Bleiler included it in the collection Five Victorian Ghost Novels (New York: Dover, 1971), and Richard Dalby included it in the collection The Haunted River & Three Other Ghostly Novellas (Mountain Ash, Wales: Sarob, 2001). Assisted by Dr. Ned Munro, Patterson investigates a supernatural mystery with criminal roots as a novice-detective.

1882

Theophilus “Phil” Edlyd appeared in Mrs. J. H. Riddell’s short story “The Open Door,” a part of her collection Weird Stories (London: J. Hogg, 1882, pp. 48-103; London: Chatto & Windus, 1884; London: Home and Van Thal, 1946; Brighton, England: Victorian Secrets, 2009). The story itself was also reprinted in The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). Edlyd investigates a supernatural mystery as a novice-detective.

1884

An unnamed narrator appeared in Angelo J. Lewis’s short story “My Only Ghost,” published in Mayfair Magazine (1.3 [Feb., 1884] pp. 289-300). This comical character investigates a supernatural mystery as a specialist-detective.

1888

An unnamed narrator appeared in B.L. Farjeon’s novel Devlin the Barber (London: Ward and Downey, 1888). Assisted by Devlin, this character investigates a crime with supernatural elements — namely, a clairvoyant assistant — as a novice-detective and divining-detective. Read more about this innovative novel in “What if Dr. Watson Could Read Minds? B.J. Farjeon’s Devlin the Barber.”

Mr. Curtis appeared in Sarah P.E. Hawthorne’s short story “The Ghost of the Grate,” published in Ballou’s Monthly Magazine (67.2 [Feb., 1888] pp. 113-15). Curtis investigates a crime with supernatural elements as a novice-detective. Read more about this character — a rare professional detective — and the author in “Sarah P.E. Hawthorne’s Mr. Curtis: Poster Boy for Novice Occult Detectives.”

1889

Constable Lumsden appeared in W.W.’s short story “The Phantom Hearse,” published in The Australian Journal (25.292 [Sept., 1889] pp. 45-52). The story was part of a newspaper series titled The Detective’s Album, which ran from 1867 to 1908. W. W. and Waif Wander were pen names used by Mary Fortune. With Mary Fortune named as author, the story was reprinted in the collection Three Murder Mysteries (Canberra, Australia: Mulini Press, 2009). Lumsden investigates a crime with supernatural elements as a novice-detective.

1890

Strickland appeared in Rudyard Kipling’s “The Mark of the Beast,” published in the Pioneer (July 12 & 14, 1890). He reappears in “The Return of Imray” (a.k.a. “The Recrudenscence of Imray”), found in Life’s Handicap: Being Stories of Mine Own People (London: McMillan, 1891, pp. 307-21.) Though those stories are set earlier in the character’s life, Strickland had appeared previously as a non-occult detective in “Miss Youghal’s Sais” (Civil and Military Gazette, [Apr. 25, 1887]) and “The Bronkhorst Divorce Case” (Plain Tales from the Hills [New York: Lovell, 1889] pp. 217-23. Assisted by the unnamed narrator, Stickland investigates first a supernatural mystery in “The Mark of the Beast” and then a criminal one with supernatural elements in “The Return of Imray” as a specialist-detective (in that he’s made a special study of the ways of the native Indian people who surround him). Read more about this character and Kipling’s other occult detective in “Two Occult Detectives from One (Unexpected) Author: Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Mr. Perseus’ and Strickland.”

1893

Ned Emery appeared in B.L. Farjeon’s novel The Last Tenant (New York: F.M. Lupton, 1893; New York: Cassell, 1893). Assisted by Bob Millet, Emery investigates a supernatural mystery with criminal roots as a novice-detective. Read more about this genre-bending novel in “‘We Know that There Is Here at Work a Supernatural Agency’: B.L. Farjeon’s Ned Emery.”

1894

Dyson appeared in Arthur Machen’s novella “The Inmost Light,” a part of The Great God Pan and The Inmost Light (London: John Lane, 1894, pp. 111-68). It was reprinted in The House of Souls (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1922, pp. 245-86). Dyson reappeared in two short stories and a novel, all published in 1895. “The Shining Pyramid” was printed in The Unknown World (2.4 [May, 1895] pp. 148-55; and 2.5 [June, 1895] pp. 197-203), and “The Red Hand” was printed in Chapman’s Magazine of Fiction (2 [Christmas, 1895] pp. 390-418). The novel was The Three Imposters (London: John Lane, 1895; Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1985). “The Inmost Light,” “The Red Hand,” and The Three Imposters were reprinted in The House of Souls (London: Grant Richards, 1906). “The Shining Pyramid” was reprinted in The Shining Pyramid (Chicago: Covici-McGee, 1923, pp. 1-35; London: Martin Secker, 1925). All of the Dyson stories are in The Dyson Chronicles (Greenville, OH: Coachwhip, 2014). Dyson investigates supernatural mysteries as a specialist-detective.

1895

An unnamed narrator appeared in Ralph Adams Cram’s “Sister Maddelena,” a part of his collection Black Spirits and White: A Book of Ghost Stories (Chicago: Stone & Kimball, 1895, pp. 83-112). This story was then included in Masterpieces of Mystery: Ghost Stories (Vol. 2, Garden City: Doubleday, Page, 1922, pp. 167-90.) The complete collection was reprinted with James Platt’s Tales of the Supernatural in Shadows Gothic and Grotesque (Greenville, OH: Coachwhip, 2010). The same narrator is featured in the collection’s first four stories, but he only acts as a detective in “Sister Maddelena.” Accompanied more than assisted by Tom Rendel, this character investigates a supernatural mystery with criminal roots as a novice-detective.

1896

An unnamed narrator appeared in H.G. Wells’ short story “The Red Room,” published in The Idler (9.2 [March, 1896] pp. 290-95). It was reprinted in his collection The Plattner Story and Others (London: Methuen, 1897, pp. 165-78). This character investigates a supernatural mystery as a novice-detective. Read more about this popular tale in “A Bare Bones Ghost Hunter: The Narrator of H.G. Wells’ ‘The Red Room’.”

Lord Syfret appeared in Arabella Kenealy’s series of short stories titled Some of Lord Syfret’s Experiences, run in Ludgate Magazine. Though I am unsure of the order or specific dates, the stories include “Stronheim’s Extremity,” “In a Terrible Grip,” “The Wolf and the Stork,” “The Villa of Simpkins,” “Prince Ranjichatterjee’s Vengeance,” “A Beautiful Vampire,” and “An Expiation.” One newspaper notice says that “In a Terrible Grip” was the second story when it appeared in the July issue of Ludgate, and another notice shows the series was still running in the September issue. While it is tempting to assume Ludgate released the stories on a monthly schedule, I have not found evidence to confirm this. The following year, all seven of Syfret’s stories reappeared in Kenealy’s collection Belinda’s Beaux and Other Stories (London: Bliss, Sands & Co., 1897) and, much later, in Supernatural Detectives 3: Flaxman Low/Lord Syfret (Greenville, OH: Coachwhip, 2011). Sufret investigates supernatural mysteries as a specialist-detective.

1897

Mr. Calder-Maxwell appeared in Lettice Galbraith‘s short story “The Blue Room,” published in McMillan’s (76 [Oct., 1897] pp. 467-80). It was reprinted in The Blue Room and Other Ghost Stories (Mountain Ash, Wales: Sarob, 1999) and in The Shadow on the Blind and Other Stories (Hertfordshire, England: Wordsworth, 2007). Calder-Maxwell investigates a supernatural mystery as a novice-detective.

Augustus Champnell appeared in Richard Marsh’s novel The Beetle (London: Skeffington, 1897; New York: G.P. Putnam, 1917). Multiple reprints are currently available. Champnell reappeared in the novel The House of Mystery (London: F. V. White, 1898), reprinted in Volume 4 of The Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction of Richard Marsh (Driffield, England: Leonaur, 2012). Both of these novels have supernatural elements, but Champnell also appeared in five short stories that appear to be restricted to “earthly” crimes, though I’m still working to confirm this. “The Lost Letter,” “Lady Majendie’s Disappearance,” “The Burglary at Azalea Villa,” and “The Stolen Treaty” open his collection An Aristocratic Detective (London: Digby, Long, 1900). “The Robbery on the ‘Stormy Petrel’” is in his collection The Seen and the Unseen (London: Methuen, 1900, pp. 247-63). Champnell investigates crimes, some with supernatural elements, as a novice-detective.

The Chief appeared in Alexander M. Reynolds’ short story “The Mystery of Djara Singh: A Spiritual Detective Story,” published in Overland Monthly (30.179 [Nov., 1897] pp. 398-406). It was later anthologized in Master Detective Stories, edited by Arthur Neale (New York: E.J. Clode, 1929). The Chief investigates a crime with supernatural elements as a novice-detective.

the-chief
Reynolds’ “The Chief”

Dr. Maxwell Dean appeared in Marie Corelli’s novel Ziska: The Problem of a Wicked Soul (Bristol: Arrowsmith, 1897; New York: Stone & Kimball, 1897; Richmond: Valancourt, 2009). Marie Corelli was the pen name of Mary Mackay. Dr. Dean investigates a supernatural mystery as a specialist-detective (but not a doctor-detective because he’s not a medical doctor). Read more about the interesting contrast this novel offers to Marsh’s The Beetle and Stoker’s Dracula — two other occult detective novels from the same year — in “An Investigator in Psychic Forms: Marie Corelli’s Dr. Maxwell Dean.”

Dr. Abraham Van Helsing appeared in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula (London: Archibald Constable, 1897). Multiple reprints are currently available. Van Helsing investigates a supernatural mystery as a doctor-detective.

1898

Flaxman Low appeared in E. and H. Heron’s first series of short stories, run in the UK version of Pearson’s Magazine. The stories are “The Story of the Spainards, Hammersmith” (5.25 [Jan., 1898] pp. 60-69); “The Story of Medhans Lea” (5.26 [Feb., 1989] pp. 137-46); “The Story of the Moor Road” (5.27 [Mar., 1898] pp. 247-56); “The Story of Baelbrow” (5.28 [Apr., 1898] pp. 366-75); “The Story of the Grey House” (5.29 [May, 1898] pp. 473-82); and “The Story of Yand Manor House,” (5.30 [June, 1898] pp. 582-91).The following year, Low appeared in E. and H. Heron’s second series of short stories run in the UK version of Pearson’s Magazine. The stories are “The Story of Sevens Hall” (7.37 [Jan,, 1899] pp. 30-38); “The Story of Saddler’s Croft” (7.38 [Feb., 1899] pp. 176-85); “The Story of No. 1, Karma Crescent” (7.39 [Mar., 1899] pp. 259-67); “The Story of Konner Old House” (7.40 [Apr., 1899] pp. 430-39); “The Story of Crowsedge,” (7.41 [May, 1899] pp. 482-91); and “The Story of Mr. Flaxman Low,” (7.42 [June, 1899] pp. 578-87). All twelve of Low’s stories reappeared in E. and H. Heron’s collection Ghosts: Being the Experiences of Flaxman Low (London: C.A. Pearson, 1899). Multiple reprints are currently available. E. and H. Heron were the pen names used by Kate Pritchard and her son, Hesketh. Low investigates supernatural mysteries as a specialist-detective.

1899

Enoch F. Gerrish appeared in Gelett Burgess’ short story “The Spectre House,” printed in Black & White (Christmas, 1899). It was reprinted in Harper’s Bazaar (33.1 [Jan. 6, 1900] p. 24) and The Evening Post (61.16 [Jan. 19, 1901] p. 1 of supplement). Gerrish reappeared in the short story “The Levitant,” a part of Burgess’ collection The Burgess Nonsense Book (New York: Frederick Stokes, 1901, pp. 113-24), which includes “The Spectre House” (pp. 125-31). Gerrish next appeared in the short story “The Ghost-Extinguisher,” published in Cosmopolitan (38.6 [Apr., 1905] pp. 689-96) and reprinted in Humorous Ghost Stories (New York: G.P. Putnam’s, 1921, pp. 51-66). All three stories are reprinted in Giving Up the Ghosts: Short-Lived Occult Detective Series by Six Renowned Authors (Greenville, OH: Coachwhip Press, 2015), edited by Tim Prasil. Gerrish investigates supernatural mysteries as a specialist-detective. Read more about this comical character and a similar one in “Lighter Ghosts: Enoch F. Gerrish and A. Wynter Knight.”

Dr. Hardarce appeared in Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story “The Brown Hand,” published in The Strand (17.101 [May, 1899] pp. 499-508). It was reprinted in Doyle’s collection Round the Fire (New York: McClure, 1908, pp. 287-307). Hardacre investigates a supernatural mystery as a doctor-detective.

dr-hardacre
Conan Doyle’s Dr. Hardacre

Stokeman appeared in Thomas Nelson Page’s short story “The Spectre in the Cart,” published in Scribner’s (26.2 [Aug., 1899] pp. 179-89). It was reprinted in Page’s collection Bred in the Bone (New York: Scribner’s, 1904, pp. 63-102). Stokeman investigates a crime with supernatural elements as a novice-detective.

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