Recent Publications | September 11, 2013

British Library Publishes 1888 Detective Novel, <i>Mr Bazalgette&#8217;s Agent</i>

Mr Baz. cover.jpg

Mr Bazalgette’s Agent was written by English novelist Leonard Merrick (1864-1939), who said of the book: 'It's a terrible book. It's the worst thing I ever wrote. I bought them all up and destroyed them. You can't find any.' Copies of the book can now only be found in private collections and in a handful of university and national libraries throughout the world. Merrick went on to become a prolific novelist, admired by such contemporaries as HG Wells, JM Barrie, GK Chesterton and Virginia Woolf, but he never wrote another detective story.

The novel follows the international exploits of Miriam Lea, a determined and resourceful young heroine who grapples with some very modern dilemmas of female virtue and vice. This new edition will make the story widely available for the first time, offering modern crime fiction fans an opportunity to discover this enticing and rare detective novel.

Mike Ashley, author and bibliographer, wrote the introduction to the book and says:

“When in 1888 Leonard Merrick detailed the adventures of the unemployed twenty-eight-year-old Miriam Lea, he was embarking upon the first full-length novel about a female detective. Mr Bazalgette’s Agent, which has been virtually unknown for over a century, is well worth reviving and should proudly claim the honour of being the first British detective novel to feature a professional female detective.”

The title is part of the British Library Crime Classics series and will be followed later this year by The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay.

Mr Bazalgette’s Agent is published on Thursday 12 September 2013.

Mr Bazalgette’s Agent, by Leonard Merrick with and introduction by Mike Ashley, Price: £6.99 / ISBN 9780712357029 / Paperback / 144 pages

This new title will be available from 12 September 2013 from the British Library Shop (tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7735 / and online at as well as other bookshops throughout the UK.

The book is also available as a Kindle e-book for £2.99 from the online shop.

The British Library Crime Classics series revives out of print and rare crime fiction titles from the Library’s collections for a modern audience. The series so far includes the first crime novel The Notting Hill MysteryThe Female DetectiveRevelations of a Lady Detective and Mr Bazalgette’s Agent.

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.