Ruth the Betrayer

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Ruth the Betrayer; or, The Female Spy, by Edward Ellis was the first fictional female detective story.[1] It was published as a penny dreadful in 52 parts in 1862-63[2] by John Dicks, and the British Library's single-volume compilation copy was acquired on 28 February 1863.[3] It therefore predates Andrew Forrester's The Female Detective and W.S. Hayward's The Revelations of a Lady Detective, both of 1863/4.[2]

Ruth Traill, the protagonist, is "a female detective – a sort of spy we use in the hanky-panky way when a man would be too clumsy".[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ British Library 001059360, Barry Ono Collections, shelfmark:C.140.c.41/Mic.C.12114: its primacy is demonstrated in a paper given by Judith Flanders in July 2010 to the Second Annual Conference of the Victorian Popular Fiction Association at Senate House, London, and published in the Times Literary Supplement of 18 June 2010, pp. 14-15 under the title "The Hanky-Panky Way: Creators of the first female detectives – a mystery solved".
  2. ^ a b Flanders, Judith (2011). The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime. HarperCollins UK. ISBN 9780007352470. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  3. ^ British Library acquisition stamp
  4. ^ Edward Ellis, Ruth the Betrayer; or, The Female Spy (London, [John Dicks], 1863)