Interwar Celebrity Detectives!


‘The Scrapbooking Detective: Frederick Porter Wensley

and the Limits of ‘Celebrity’ and ‘Authority’ in Inter-War Britain’

By Eloise Moss

Social History 40/1 (2015)

The article deals with the published life-writings of ‘celebrity detective’ Frederick Porter Wensley, who was head of C.I.D. at Scotland Yard during the interwar years and captured some of the period’s most famous murderers, burglars and conmen. It charts how Wensley documented his own rise to fame through keeping scrapbooks of press cuttings and photographs about his career, which he then used to inform his phenomenally successful 1931 autobiography Detective Days. In analysing this process, the article questions the extent to which Wensley was able to reconcile his lust for fame with his professional identity, and situates this tension against the tightening restrictions on communication between press and police after the First World War, particularly in the context of the increasing use of the Official Secrets Act.

Editors Note: This is an archived blog post from 9/2/2015.


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