Lost Detectives

Adapting Old Texts for New Media

About the Project

‘Lost Detectives: Adapting Old Texts for New Media’ is a multi-strand and multi-stage Knowledge Exchange and Impact project which aims to bring works of nineteenth-century Russian crime fiction to greater public prominence through adaptation. It is a collaborative project between Dr Claire Whitehead at the University of St Andrews and author-illustrator Carol Adlam (caroladlam.co.uk). The project is kindly funded by the University of St Andrews’ Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund.

Underpinning Research

In September 2018, Claire Whitehead published The Poetics of Early Russian 1860-1917: Deciphering Stories of Detection (Oxford: Legenda) as the culmination of more than a decade’s academic research. Crime fiction enjoys huge popularity amongst readers in Russia today, but relatively little was known about its origins in the second half of the nineteenth century. So, Claire set out to discover more about the roots of the genre in Russia and discovered more than a dozen unknown and unrecognised authors who were writing great works of crime fiction in the late Imperial era. The Poetics of Early Russian Crime Fiction looks at over 40 works of Russian crime fiction from the late Imperial era and focusses on the various ways in which they utilise storytelling devices to construct and then resolve criminal plotlines. See: Poetics of Early Russian Crime Fiction 1860-1917

However, because very few of the works that are discussed in the book have ever been translated into English, Claire began to think about ways in which she could bring some of these works to a wider public readership. During discussions about the design of a cover image for the book, Claire and the author-illustrator, Carol Adlam, came up with the idea of thinking about how various forms of adaptation might open up avenues for greater knowledge of these fascinating, but lost, works of crime fiction. ‘Lost Detectives’ currently has two stages of development: see here: (insert link to another page here). This website is a means for people interested in our project to keep up-to-date with developments and future stages in the project.


Carol Adlam

Twitter: @1badlamb

Dr Claire Whitehead

Senior Lecturer, Department of Russian University of St Andrews
Author of The Poetics of Early Russian Crime Fiction 1860-1917: Deciphering Stories of Detection (Legenda, 2018)
Twitter: @cewhitehead72


Dr Simon Grennan

Dr Simon Grennan is author of A Theory of Narrative Drawing (Palgrave Macmillan 2017) and Dispossession (one of The Guardian Books of the Year 2015), a graphic adaptation of a novel by Anthony Trollope (Jonathan Cape and Les Impressions Nouvelles 2015). He is co-author, with Roger Sabin and Julian Waite, of Marie Duval: Maverick Victorian Cartoonist (Manchester University Press 2019), Marie Duval (Myriad 2018) and The Marie Duval Archive (www.marieduval.org) and co-editor, with Laurence Grove, of Transforming Anthony Trollope: 'Dispossession', Victorianism and 19th century word and image (Leuven University Press 2015), among others. Since 1990, he has been half of international artists team Grennan & Sperandio, producer of over forty comics and books (www.kartoonkings.com). For further information please see: www.simongrennan.com.


The Lost Detectives Podcast is hosted by Dr Claire Whitehead with contributing guest Carol Adlam. In it we discuss adaptations of nineteenth-century literary works into different media including stage, audio, and graphic novel. If you have any comments or suggestions please get in touch [cew12@st-andrews.ac.uk].

University of St Andrews · Lost Detectives Podcast - Episode 1

Episode One: Dr Claire Whitehead and Carol Adlam discuss the adaptation of two novels first published in 1872: Semyon Panov's novel Tri suda ili ubiistvo vo vremia bala [Three Courts, or Murder After the Ball], which Adlam has adapted in graphic novel form as The Bobrov Affair, and Nikolai Timofeev's Zapiski sledovatelia [Notes of an Investigator], adapted by Adlam as an audio play entitled Today in 1864, and as Spade and Sand, a verse drama. Recorded in St Andrews, 12/12/2019, with Claire Whitehead and Carol Adlam. Readings by: Viktoria Donovan, Emily Finer, Jesse Gardiner, Margarita Vaysman, Mikhail Vodopyanov, & Claire Whitehead.

A transcript of the podcast is available here [download].

University of St Andrews · Lost Detectives Podcast - Episode 2

Episode Two: Carol Adlam interviews Dr Simon Grennan, visual artist and specialist in graphic novels, adaptation, and intermediality. Simon and Carol discuss Simon’s graphic novel Dispossession: A Novel in Few Words (Jonathan Cape and Les Impressions Nouvelles, 2015), an adaptation of Antony Trollope’s John Caldigate, first published in 1877. Topics covered include intermedial adaptation; finding visual analogues to literary texts; Australia in nineteenth-century literature; twentieth-century movie time and point of view; and comics theory. The podcast also provides an update on the Lost Detectives project with Claire Whitehead and Carol Adlam, with news of developments on the graphic novel project and the script adaptations. Recorded in Chester, Nottingham and St Andrews, February-May 2020.

A transcript of the podcast is available here. [download].

University of St Andrews · Lost Detectives Podcast - Episode 3

Episode Three: Claire Whitehead and Carol Adlam discuss Adlam’s audio play Curare, inspired by the Russian crime novel Sekretnoe sledstvie [A Secret Investigation, 1876], by Alexandr Shkliarevskii. Topics discussed include transmedia adaptation, narrative structure and voice, women’s education and medical training in the reform period (1860s-1870s), the use of curare in anaesthesia, the rise of the animal rights movement, and the use of photography in early forensic science. Recorded in Nottingham and St Andrews, September 2020.

A transcript of the podcast will be available shortly.



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