Thursday, September 9, 2010

Whodunit makes the Bestseller List

It's hard to imagine how long the printed word has been thrilling, intriguing or entertaining people, but it's even more interesting to study the best seller lists since they first began somewhere around 1825 or so. We really have to stretch ourselves to imagine that far back so much has happened in the last 150 years or more.

I began to wonder when the first mystery may have hit the shelves, but more importantly when did one reach the distinction of bestseller?

Imagine, the year is 1902 and the list has been going for a while. You pick up the paper and lo and behold Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hounds of the Baskervilles is listed. It is still one of Doyle's most famous Sherlock Holmes novels and is officially the first 'detective story', to  make the bestseller list. [according to Michael Korda in Making the List, a cultural History of the American bestseller 1900 - 1999.]

But it wasn't until 1909 that the first American detective story made the list. The Man in the Lower Ten, by Mary Roberts Rinehart had the distinction and along with that, a tradition of women writers who used three names in their signature line. The tradition, it would seem with such notables as Mary Higgins Clark and others.

So the printed word continues to be interested in the traditions and genre's long ago built by those we love to read and hope to emulate in our own writing.
Billie A Williams (since I only use an initial I guess I don't qualify for the distinction mentioned above {smile})
Money Isn't Everything

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