Thu, 29 Feb 2024 19:00 - 20:00

Private Inquiries: The Secret History of Female Sleuths (In person)

The female private detective has been a staple of popular culture for over 150 years, from Victorian lady sleuths to ‘busy-body spinsters’ and gun-toting modern PIs. But what about the real-life women behind these fictional tales?

Dismissed as ‘Mrs Sherlock Holmes’ or amateurish Miss Marples, mocked as private dicks or honey trappers, they have been quietly investigating crime since the mid-nineteenth century – everything from theft and fraud to romance scams and murder.

Journalist, historian (and newly qualified PI), Caitlin Davies, speaks to former investigations reporter, Urmee Khan, about her new book Private Inquiries, which traces the history of the UK’s female investigators, uncovering the truth about their lives and careers from the 1850s to the present day. From Antonia Moser, the first woman to open her own agency to Annette Kerner, who ran the Mayfair Detective Agency on Baker Street in the 1940s to Liverpool sleuth Zena Scott-Archer, who became the first woman president of the World Association of Detectives, Davies follows in the footsteps of her subjects and meets modern PIs to find out the reality behind the fictional image.

Caitlin Davies is a teacher, social historian, freelance journalist and novelist whose previous non-fiction books include Downstream: A History and Celebration of Swimming the River ThamesQueens of the Underworld: A Journey in the Lives of Female Crooks; and Bad Girls: The Rebels and Renegades of Holloway Prison, which was longlisted for the 2019 Orwell Prize for Political Writing.

Urmee Khan is founder of a media crisis agency, Rakhana. Prior to that she spent 15 years as a journalist at the Daily Telegraph and CNN. She spent the first half of her career working as an investigations reporter for The Sunday People and the Observer

Caitlin Davies’ Private Inquiries will be available to buy at the event or online from our partner bookshop Hatchards.

Supported by Fondation Jan Michalski

NB Doors (and the bar) will open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.

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