British Crime Writing Archive | Gladstone's Library

British Crime Writing Archive (CWA and Detection Club papers)

History and Provenance

The Crime Writers Association and the Detection Club are two of the UK’s most prominent societies for the promotion and promulgation of crime writing. The CWA was founded in 1953 by John Creasy; they award the prestigious Dagger Prizes and support their author members. Since 2017, the CWA have run the annual Alibis in the Archives event here at Gladstone’s Library.

The Chair of the Crime Writers Association is the crime writer Martin Edwards. In his capacity as CWA Archivist, Martin worked with Gladstone’s Library to make the CWA archives available to the public in the Library’s residential setting. The CWA deposits began in 2015; in 2016 the papers of the Detection Club were also deposited. The collection is now known as the British Crime Writing Archive, a nationally-significant archive for crime writing in the UK.

The Detection Club was founded in 1930 by a group of British mystery writers, including Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, and many more. The first president was G. K. Chesterton, and all members agreed to adhere to Knox’s Commandments in their writing. An extraordinary article from The New York Times was published in September 1979, describing the Detection Club’s ‘Uncommon Order of Initiation’.

Access and Finding Aid

The British Crime Writing Archive is not listed on the main library catalogue but can be browsed using the finding aids below. These can be downloaded to your device.

As this is a living, contemporary archive, it is request-only. Please send requests to library@gladlib.org, and we will liaise with the Archivist of the CWA on your behalf. All archives and special collections can only be accessed via a Request to Read Restricted Items form, which must be submitted at least fourteen days in advance of your visit.

Finding Aids

Reference Title Description Date
CWA/01/001-569  Red Herrings    Newsletters - CWA News Sheets (Bulletin of the Crime Writers Association). Re-named from March 1957 as Red Herrings (Bulletin of the Crime Writers Association). 1956-2003
CWA/02/001-003 AGM Minutes Minutes and associated papers of AGMs and Committee membership correspondence. 1958-1997
CWA/03/00-010 Committee Minutes Minutes and associated papers for monthly Committee meetings. 1956-1999
CWA/04/001-009 Membership Application forms, membership secretary correspondence, etc 1956-2001
CWA/05/001-002    Financial Financial budget report and accounts, and correspondence. 1999-2001
CWA/06/001-004    Legal Correspondence Correspondence regarding changes to constitution in 1997, and incorporation of CWA into a private limited company. 1958-1998
CWA/07-001-023    Correspondence Secretarial, chair, and membership files. 1953-2002
CWA/08/001-010 Conference Correspondence re arranging, booking, and conference papers. 1957-2001
CWA/09/001-013    Awards Correspondence regarding arranging awards, nominees, etc.
CWA/10/001-004    Newscuttings Newscuttings regarding CWA events and crime writers 1962-2004
CWA/11/001-005    Photographs Photographs of CWA events, award dinners, etc. c. 1957-1989
CWA/12/001-005    Publications CWA publications such as The Crime Writer magazine and other books. c. 1954-1995
CWA/13/001-009    History/Misc/AV/Objects Year Books (compilations of ducoments). Also folders of document cuttings regarding early history of CWA, compiled by Eric Bruton and Leo Harris. Also taped interviews, etc. c. 1953-1995

Arrangement and Description

The archive consists of the working documentation and correspondence pertaining to the activities of the Crime Writers Association and the Detection Club, as well as discrete collections relating to the work of several crime writers.

The CWA section includes correspondence and documentation relating to the awarding of Dagger Awards, as well as a complete run of the Association’s newsletter Red Herrings

Additional Information

The collection has attracted unprecedented interest and will certainly outgrow Gladstone’s Library. Anyone interested in hosting a section of the archive should get in touch via louisa.yates@gladlib.org.

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