Renáta Zsámba, Senior Lecturer, Eszterházy Károly University, Eger, Hungary, does research in British detective fiction of the Golden Age as well as American feminist crime fiction and socialist crime fiction of Hungary. She has published articles in several journals including the Eger Journal of English and American Studies and Korunk. Her essay “A Matter of Life and Death: Mr. Darcy and Memory in P. D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley” appeared in History, Memory and Nostalgia in Literature and Culture published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2018. She also contributed an entry on Margery Allingham’s Campion to Sleuths, Private Eyes, and Policemen: An International Compendium of the 100 Greatest Literary Detectives (2017) and a review on Martin Edwards’s crime fiction to HJEAS (2017.1). Her recent research focuses on gender, nostalgia, and the memory crisis of the British middle class after the Great War in the works of Margery Allingham, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Josephine Tey.
Golden Age detective fiction by women offers insights into the competing gender ideologies of the 1930s and early 1940s. The female protagonist these novels delineate is called “the female gentleman” by Melissa Schaub, who describes her as the detective’s equal based on her intellectual abilities and independence. Although the female gentleman seems a revolutionary figure as she is forward-looking in gender politics, her strong belief in class hierarchy, her Victorian morals and relationship with the gentleman detective relocate her in the heritage of the English pastoral. This essay focuses on the female gentleman as a bridge figure whose marriage to the detective not only restores him to his masculinity but also portrays the woman embedded in the pastoral idyll of the English landscape. Her decision to accept traditional femininity reinforces the female gentleman’s role in the recreation of the stability and security of pre-war England. (RZs)