Mary Fortune, 1833-1910

Biographical note

Australian writer of detective fiction, under the pseudonyms Waif Wander and W.W. She was one of the world's earliest women to write detective fiction, and probably the first to write from the viewpoint of the detective.

Mary Fortune was born around 1833 in Belfast, Ireland. She traveled with her father to Canada. In Melbourne, Canada, she married Joseph Fortune on 25 March 1851 and had one son. When her father left Canada for the Australian goldfields, she followed him, leaving her husband behind and travelling to Australia with her son. She arrived in Melbourne, Victoria, on 3 October 1855.

A prolific storyteller, in all she wrote over 500 detective stories over 40 years, most featuring Detective Mark Sinclair. She is best known for The Detective's Album, the longest-running early detective serial anywhere in the world. Narrated by detective Mark Sinclair, The Detective's Album was serialized for forty years in the Australian Journal from 1868 to 1908. In 1871, seven of the stories were published as a book, as The Detective's Album: Tales of the Australian Police.

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