J. R. Ware

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Tue Jun 22 15:34:03 UTC 2010

Those among us who are interested in 19th century slang -- both of us -- know J. R. Ware as the compiler of Passing English of the Victorian Era, published in 1909.

The current issue of TLS has an article identifying him as the author of one of the first detective stories to feature a female detective.  The detective is "Miss Gladden", who figures in The Female Detective, by "Andrew Forrester, Jr.", published in 1863.  This article gathers together a few scraps of biography for Ware, but proposes Ruth the Betrayer ("Ruth Traill"), by Edward Ellis, published in 1862, as in fact the earliest female detective in fiction, and also discusses The Revelations of a Lady Detective ("Mrs. Paschal"), from 1864 -- evidently published anonymously, but attributed in 1884 to William Stephen Hayward.
TLS's article is "The Hanky-Panky Way: Creators of the First Female Detectives: A Mystery Solved", by Judith Flanders, (June 18, 2010, pp. 14-15.

The title of the TLS article comes from Ruth the Betrayer, which describes Ruth as "a female detective -- as sort of spy we use in the hanky-panky way when a man would be too clumsy".  The OED shows "hanky panky" from 1841: Jugglery, legerdemain; trickery, double dealing, underhand dealing.  1841 Punch I. 88 (Farmer) Only a little hanky-panky. 1847 ALB. SMITH Chr. Tadpole xlvii. (1879) 409 Necromancy, my dear Sir, the hanky-panky of the ancients. 1864 E. YATES Broken to Harness xxxviii, If there was any hanky-panky, any mystery I mean.  HDAS has the some, as well as a considerable number of later citations from the U. S.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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