From: Eddie Duggan ( Eddie.Duggan@suffolk.ac.uk)
Date: 04 May 2000

Here's an extract from some old stuff I still have on the web, relating to the (now defunct) course, Watching the Detectives [so much for
'education, education education' eh?] in which passing reference is made to Vidocq. The rest of the document from which the extract below is taken at http://www.ejmd.mcmail.com/detect.htm And there's more stuff at http://www.ejmd.mcmail.com/wtdnotes.htm.

*** There are many examples of individual operators before the establishment of le Surete: various 'thief takers', hired spies and other types were not in short supply. The distinction between detective and criminal is constantly blurred throughout the history of crime fiction, and indeed, crime fiction is confusingly blurred with fact, from the fictionalised exploits Eugene Vidocq, criminal turned detective turned criminal, and the first director of le Surete, to Arthur Conan Doyle's investigations of real cases on the strength of Holmes reputation. Eugene Francois Vidocq, criminal turned detective, was the first director of Le Surete, or chief of detectives of the Parisian police department, established in 1812. According to Vidocq's memoirs
(ghostwritten and heavily fictionalised), pub. in four vols 1828-29, he was a brave adventurer with a flair for drama and a master of disguise. Ian Ousby suggests that there is nothing reassuring about Vidocq: while his memoirs boast of rather than repent a criminal past, he remains 'a rapacious and self-interested trickster' (Ousby, The Crime and Mystery Book, p. 19). Vidocq left Le Surete under a cloud in 1827, to set up his own private detective agency, Les Bureau des Reseignements (Information Bureau) some 40 years before Alan Pinkerton set up his detective agency in Chicago in 1850. While the distinction between criminal and detective is blurred by Vidocq, the distinction between fact and fiction is blurred by Doyle's
'real' investigations, many of which are recounted by Peter Costello in The Real World of Sherlock Holmes (Robinson; London, 1991).

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