Fri 7 Jan 2011
A few weeks ago on this blog I posted a review/essay by J. F. Norris of The Notting Hill Mystery (1865), a book considered by many to be the first detective novel ever written. When it was serialized in one of the magazines of the day, the author was noted as “Anonymous.” When it appeared later in hardcover, someone named Charles Felix was given credit.
Who was Charles Felix? It’s been a mystery. “Felix” has long been known as a pen name, but who was the person behind the pseudonym? His was a name lost over the years, if it was ever known, and if so, forgotten by everyone since.
But no longer. We now know who done it. In this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review section will be an essay by Paul Collins, who explains all:
I won’t go into all of the detective work that Collins has done — you’ll have to read the full article to do that — but here’s the key paragraph:
“I’d almost given up when I stumbled upon a Literary Gossip column in The Manchester Times for May 14, 1864. The sole identification of Charles Felix had lain there for 146 years, hidden in this single sentence: ‘It is understood that Velvet Lawn, [another book known to have been written by] by Charles Felix, the new novel announced by Messrs. Saunders, Otley & Co., is by Mr. Charles Warren Adams, now the sole representative of that firm.’”
The entry for The Notting Hill Mystery on Wikipedia has been updated to include this information. A link to John’s review on this blog appears at the bottom of the Wiki page.