Structures of authority: postwar masculinity and the British police

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The British police procedural novel of the 1950s has attracted little critical attention, perhaps because the decade is seen as a ‘golden age’ of police legitimacy (Loader and Mulcahy, 2003). This perception is reinforced by the cinema of the period, where the police are predominantly represented as embodying traditional masculinities and demonstrating familiar national virtues. They are also shown to be policing a society that was itself fundamentally homogenous. Yet this template bore little resemblance to the realities of crime in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and it needs to be set against developments in the crime novel. While cinema used the genre to reassure, it is less clear whether the police procedural of the period attempted or achieved the same end. This hypothesis is explored through an examination of John Creasey’s popular Gideon books. Characterised by open endings and a disturbing level of violence, these novels demonstrate a significant transition in the representation of the police in British crime fiction, suggesting that the 1950s procedural was not a source of reassurance, but a textual space that recognised and negotiated the pressures of a changing society.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2015


  • John Creasey
  • JJ Marric
  • Police procedural
  • Masculinity
  • British cinema
  • 1950s
  • Delinquency


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