Edgar Wallace and the Global Thriller

4justposter Walpic

Edgar Wallace (Greenwich, 1875- Beverly Hills, 1932) is probably one of the  crime authors whose academic reappraisal stands to gain the most from the shift in methods and objects advocated in this blog. A sort of consensus  has hitherto prevailed, consigning his books (famously written  over amazingly brief, but sustained, periods of concentration) in the category of  hastily churned out yarns.  Successful, but ultimately forgettable.  Mass market products of their time, which have now become less appealing, and promise little reward to the modern reader. This is certainly very unfair.  One needs only to consider  his books’ capacity to thrill all across the world to be inclined to revise such judgement. Or to reflect on the number of adaptations to the screen (more than 150, making him one of the world leading authors) his novels have received.

Wallace thrills the world

But on the other hand, a material study of Wallace’s output, based on the international context of circulation of his books holds different promises. Its object can only indirectly be an evaluation of their literary merit (beyond their  high translatability and readability in various cultural contexts).  A quantitative appraisal and a qualitative analysis of their global reception has a broader potential and can help delineating the structures of  the international field of crime fiction.


This ranges from the point of view of a history of publishing industries, to a  sociology of auctorial strategies in crime fiction , to a comparison of authors’ writing practice and international careers (a comparison between Wallace and Simenon would be interesting in so many respects).  Countless adaptations on screen and on TV, and Wallace’s involvement with Hollywood all warrant studies in the intermediality of Crime Fiction. The use of his name as a franchise for several media products would also call for new studies in crime fiction from the angle of copyright, brand name and intellectual property.

Wallace People             Wallace Time

The following international book covers are put here as milestones to help envision the width of the task, and some of the resources available, from different periods and  areas.

Wal4J WaWallace 4Gerechten

 Wallace Crimson HodderWallace CrimsonCircle

Wallace HSWhen the gangs

Wallace double Wallace Greenpack  Wallace Red Aces

Wallace wite face Wallace the man who knewDDCCWM

In Germany :

Der_Zinker Der_Hexer_1927)

In France :

Wallace le faussaire Wallace NEO

In Spain:

Wallace Spain 1944Steinewe

In Italy :

HSeconomico WalWALGial

Wallace’s preponderance in the Giallo Mondadori collection (first series) :

Giallo wallace

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