We are currently exhibiting a selection of books from our Bibliomystery Collection on the upper level of the library, outside the Dean’s suite, room #370. The bibliomysteries are from the Golden Age of detective fiction, a period between the world wars when various authors published mystery novels, typically following certain conventions and clichés, with Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers two of the most famous authors. The British authors were masters of the mystery genre from this era, and their popularity endures even today. The exhibit offers bibliomysteries published between 1920-1929.
What is a bibliomystery? Although not found in a standard dictionary, the term has been used by aficionados of the mystery subgenre since about the 1980s. Essentially bibliomysteries are mysteries involving some aspect of the book as a vital part of the plot.
Acknowledging that definitions of the term bibliomystery are subjective, editor Otto Penzler* identifies mysteries in which books, manuscripts, archives, bookshops, libraries, and publishing houses are important to the plot as belonging in this sub-genre. He also includes mysteries that feature book collectors, booksellers, librarians, scholars working on books or in archives, publishers, and authors. In terms of building the University of Denver Bibliomystery Collection, we use these categories as guidelines, but sometimes we may be more inclusive, for it gets murky when the item is not truly related to the book, such as diaries and letters and magazine publishing.
*Otto Penzler, proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City and an authority on bibliomysteries, compiled a beautifully illustrated annotated bibliography: Bibliomysteries: An Annotated Bibliography of First Editions of Mystery Fiction Set in the World of Books, 1849-2000. If interested in browsing the bibliography, visit Special Collections.
For more information about the Bibliomystery Collection, please contact either Special Collections (firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.871.3428) or Peggy Keeran, Arts & Humanities Reference Librarian, email@example.com.