Novelist Maureen Jennings reinvents the Victorians in her fiction

What kind of research do historical novels set in Victorian times require and what is it about the Victorians that continues to inspire recent creative work? This Thursday, author Maureen Jennings, creator of the Detective William Murdoch novels, will talk about her experiences in writing Vices of My Blood: A Detective Murdoch Mystery, as the inaugural lecture in a new series from the Victorian Studies Network at York (VSNY).

Joining Jennings and also answering questions will be actor Yannic Bisson, who plays Detective Murdoch in the television show "Murdoch Mysteries", which is based on the books.

The VSNY lecture series features well-known contemporary writers who recreate Victorian society and its characters. “Reinventing the Victorians” will take place March 4 at 7pm in 244 Accolade East Building, Keele campus.

Right: Maureen Jennings

Jennings will discuss the challenges of writing detective fiction and answer questions from the audience. Vices of My Blood (McClelland & Stewart, 2006) immerses readers in late-19th-century Toronto, where the hero’s investigation of a grisly murder reveals both the gritty underworld of the city’s working poor and the shameful secrets of its most prominent citizens.

Born in Birmingham, England, Jennings immigrated to Canada with her mother in 1956. Her first book, and the initial novel in the Detective Murdoch series, Except The Dying: A Detective Murdoch Mystery, was published in 1997 by St. Martin’s Press. From there, she went on to publish many more Murdoch mystery novels, including Under the Dragon’s Tail (St Martin’s Press, 1998), Poor Tom Is Cold (Thomas Dunne Books, 2001), Let Loose the Dogs (St. Martin’s Press, 2002), Night’s Child: A Detective Murdoch Mystery (McClelland & Stewart, 2005) and A Journeyman to Grief (McClelland & Stewart, 2007).

The third season of the "Murdoch Mysteries" will premiere March 14 on Citytv. Several of the novels have also been made into TV movies.

The K Handshape (Dundurn Press, 2008), not part of the Murdoch series, and A Journeyman to Grief were nominated for Arthur Ellis Awards for best novel by the Crime Writers of Canada. In 2009, Jennings started work on a Second World War trilogy of suspense novels set in the Midlands of England, titled Season of Darkness.

Everyone is welcome to attend. The VSNY is an interdisciplinary network whose membership spans a range of departments and programs across York.

For more information, visit the VSNY Web site.