Publication of Edgar Allan Poe’s First Detective Story

Created by Bob Helmbrecht, collection development librarian

“Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Edgar Allan Poe’s first detective story, was published in the April 1841 issue of “Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine.” The story is generally considered to be the first modern detective story. Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin sees that an acquaintance has been arrested for the murders of two women, and uses his method of “ratiocination” to deduce who really killed them.

Poe wrote two additional stories featuring Dupin: “The Mystery of Marie Roget” and “The Purloined Letter.” These stories introduce elements that have become commonplace in later detective fiction. The detective is brilliant and very eccentric. There is a close associate who exists mostly so that we can hear the detective’s deductions explained. And there are police out of their depth, who after being mystified or looking at the wrong suspects, grudgingly accept Dupin’s brilliance. Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot are among Dupin’s literary heirs.

You can read all three of the Dupin stories in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales” and listen to them on CD in “Poe’s Detective: The Dupin Stories.” If those are checked out, you can find the stories in the e-book “The Works of Edgar Allan Poe” in our always available Duke Classics e-book collection.