Susannah Stapleton: The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective
12.00-1.00pm Sun 16 June
The Radcliffe Centre
Once famed as ‘the woman Sherlock Holmes’, Maud West opened her London detective agency in 1905 and sleuthed on behalf of society’s finest for more than thirty years. Her exploits grabbed headlines throughout the world. But beneath the, sometimes outrageous, public persona, was a woman forced to hide vital aspects of her own identity in order to thrive in a class-obsessed and male-dominated world.
Interweaving tales from Maud’s own ‘casebook’ with social history and extensive original research, Susannah Stapleton investigates the stories Maud West told about herself and her work to uncover the reality of life as a female private detective in the Golden Age of Crime.
With walk-on parts by Dr Crippen and Dorothy L Sayers, Bolshevik blackmailers and Parisian gangsters, the result is a portrait of a woman ahead of her time and a deliciously salacious glimpse into the underbelly of ‘good society’ during the first half of the twentieth century.
Susannah Stapleton is a writer from Shropshire with a particular interest in twentieth century women’s history. Buckingham has a special place in her heart as it was here that she started writing in her spare time over twenty years ago while living in the Corinthian Arch at Stowe and working with the National Trust on the estate and at Claydon House. She left Buckingham to pursue a master’s degree in heritage interpretation and has been researching and writing about history ever since. The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective is her first full-length biography and brings together her twin passions of restoring the voices of forgotten women and devouring Golden Age detective fiction.