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Clues, red herrings and whodunnits will be at the centre of two free events at University Centre Shrewsbury (UCS) focusing on sleuths and sidekicks in crime fiction.

Members of the public are invited to the event ‘A Study in Sidekicks: The Detective’s Assistant in Crime Fiction’, by Dr Lucy Andrew and Sam Saunders, from 1.30pm to 3.30pm on Saturday, March 31, 2018.

This two-part session will consider the role of the reader operating as the sidekick figure in mid-Victorian detective literature, as well as the phenomenon of the boy sidekick, from Sherlock Holmes’s Baker Street Irregulars to Batman’s Robin.

A further event, ‘The Secret of the Sidelined Sleuth: Tracing Nancy Drew in the 21st Century’, led by Dr Andrew, takes place from 1pm until 4pm on Saturday, April 28, 2018.

This interactive session will focus on the world’s most famous girl sleuth, Nancy Drew, with particular emphasis on Nancy’s 21st century incarnations. Alongside a lecture, there will be an opportunity to discuss personal experiences and memories of Nancy Drew, as well as take part in a workshop engaging with Nancy Drew texts from various eras. Nancy Drew fans are welcome to bring along their own texts and memorabilia to share with the group.

Both discussions will be held at Guildhall, UCS’s learning and research base.

Dr Andrew said: “Since its inception in the 19th century, detective fiction has been an intensely popular and wonderfully varied genre. The 21st century has witnessed many new developments in the genre, but also a resurgence of interest in established detective characters from the 19th and 20th centuries - with Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew among them.

“These two events will focus not only on early developments in the detective genre for child and adult audiences alike, but also on contemporary revisions and reinterpretations of key trends and characters within detective fiction.”

Dr Andrew is Programme Leader for English and Lecturer in English Literature at UCS. Her main areas of research are children’s and young adult literature, crime fiction and popular culture from the 19th century to the present day.

Dr Andrew is also co-organiser of the Short Story Network, which supports communication and collaboration between scholars working on short fiction of the 19th and early 20th centuries. She is also the author of The Boy Detective in Early British Children’s Literature, which is out now, published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Sam Saunders is a third-year PhD Student at Liverpool John Moores University. He has previously written for the British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS), The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals (RSVP) and has articles awaiting publication with the Wilkie Collins Journal and Law, Crime and History.

Admission to both events is free, but booking is essential. To reserve a place go to  

Alternatively, people can visit the reception at Guildhall in Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury (SY3 8HQ), which is open from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and from 8.30am to 1.30pm on Fridays, or call 01743 297185.

The talks are part of a series of events at UCS covering a range of subjects. Many of the events are free, and they are open to everyone. For more details go to

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