Miss Hurd: An Enigma

Miss Hurd: An Enigma. Anna Katharine Green, Mrs. Charles Rohlfs.
Miss Hurd: An Enigma
Miss Hurd: An Enigma
Miss Hurd: An Enigma
Miss Hurd: An Enigma
Miss Hurd: An Enigma
Miss Hurd: An Enigma
An activist detective novel, requiring readers to see and acknowledge the plight of abused wives
Miss Hurd: An Enigma

New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1894. First edition. Original publisher's cloth binding with bright gilt to spine. Clean and vivid, with the faintest hint of wear to extremities. Textblock tight and unmarked; middle signature a bit proud but firm. A much better copy than is typically found, of an activist novel by one of the mothers of detective fiction. Best known for The Leavenworth Case, Green helped define a new genre and created space for female writers within it; and she has been credited with the invention of the "girl detective" that served as a predecessor for characters such as Miss Marple and Nancy Drew.

Though it has received less critical attention than titles such as The Leavenworth Case, Miss Hurd: An Enigma was important for its use of mystery and the chase to convey a feminist message. Contemporary reviews certainly picked this up, railing against Green and her heroine. In reviewing the book at its release, The Atlantic Monthly complained "The so-called Miss Hurd, a heroine of the impressive, queenly order, spends her time in running away from her husband -- who is liberally endowed with many of the gifts and graces which attract ordinary young women -- and in being discovered by him in various ingenious hiding places. To the reader the principal enigma should be, why should this long-suffering gentleman have cared to reclaim his errant spouse?" Already widely known and popular for her detective stories featuring intelligent and independent women characters, "Green's attitude toward women evolved throughout her writing career, and her portrayal of them is bolder following her marriage [in 1884, to an actor 7 years her junior]...Green also became more sympathetic to women trapped by failed marriages and subjected to psychological and physical abuse. For example, Miss Hurd depicts a battered wife, a runaway, whose husband continually claims 'she belongs to me.' Thomas Murdoch perceives his wife as motivated by 'an almost masculine desire for independence'...ultimately, although she evokes sympathy, no one can legally prevent her husband from reclaiming her. By revealing this woman's desperate attempts to free herself, Green presented to situation for public scrutiny -- to an audience of both men and women" (Maida). Miss Hurd stands as an activist, feminist novel -- Green's use of her very public platform to advocate for women's rights.
Fine (Item #3411)

Price: $600