The Old Man In the Corner - Baroness Orczy 1909 - William Briggs, Toronto - First Canadian Edition (or first edition, Canadian issue, comprised of the sheets from the Greening and Co. publication of the same year with a new title-leaf) The man in the corner pushed aside his glass, and leant across the table. ‘Mysteries!’ he commented. ‘There is no such thing as a mystery in connection with any crime, provided intelligence is brought to bear upon its investigation.’

A superb copy, illustrated with eight full page plates by H. M. Brock.

The nameless hero of this masterpiece has since been credited as the world’s first ‘armchair’ detective, solving crimes simply by reading newspaper articles whilst sipping tea in the corner of London’s A.B.C Teashop. His eccentricities include tying and unravelling complicated knots of string as he explains his deductions to his primary audience, Polly Burton, a young journalist who eagerly chronicles his adventures.

Throughout a series of twelve short stories and anecdotes, our protagonist does occasionally find purpose to leave his chair for the odd courtroom visit, and extremely polite interrogations, though, unusually for the genre, our hero disdains the police and seldom gives up the identities of the various perpetrators, often leaving them to wander the streets of London unassailed.
  Baroness Emmuska Orczy (1865-1947), British author and creator of the now famous genre of ‘armchair detective’. ‘When Baroness Orczy was a struggling young author in London, before the success of The Scarlet Pimpernel, the editor of the Pearson magazines suggested she profit from the popularity of Sherlock Holmes by writing a series of detective stories. The result was The Old Man in the Corner, one of the great figures in the early detective story. During World War I, she founded the Women of England’s Active Service League, which listed over 20,000 young volunteers, who canvassed across Britain to convince young men to join the war effort.

Provenance: J. Madden, with their signature. Small booksellers plate of White & Bindon, Vancouver.

References: Haycraft,
Murder for Pleasure 70. Herbert, Oxford Companion to Crime & Mystery Writing 319. Cooper & Pike, Detective Fiction. Book Collector, Top 200 Crime Novels. Ellery Queen, Queen’s Quorum, 41. A Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone.

Octavo (19 x 13 cm). pp. 340. In publisher’s light blue cloth, spine and front board lettered in gilt, red and blue illustration of main character to front board.
  Condition: Near fine, nice bright gilt and illustration to front board, light rubbing to edges, toning to front and last sheet, front hinge starting, one or two pages over-opened.   Ref: 109113   Price: HK$ 1,200