This thesis examines four Australian crime fiction writers of the 1950s and explores in detail the life and writings of sisters Margot and Neville Ann Goyder, who wrote together under the pseudonym of Margot Neville. I also explore the sisters publishing relationship with the Australian Women's Weekly, and how their writings, and the fiction and articles in the Australian Women's Weekly, inform and complicate understandings of Australian life and society in the 1950s. Margot and Neville Ann Goyder wrote twenty two crime fiction novels in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The novels were all set in Australia, with a distinctly Australian feel. The two sisters enjoyed a successful publishing career over twenty years. As well as the crime fiction novels, they also wrote short romance stories for many popular women's magazines of the 1950s.
In examining the works of Margot Neville, I explore the depictions of Australian middle-class life during the 1950s, and show that the picture they present of that time indicates a more complex and less conservative society than is usually presented by reviewers and commentators looking back on that time. The works of Margot Neville, both crime fiction novels and short stories, were published in the Australian Women's Weekly during the 1950s, and a critical review of the magazine also indicates a less conservative society than is presented today. The thesis also examines the theories surrounding the distinctive structure of crime fiction, a genre that has very clear conventions. While the structure of crime fiction is important, and a component demanded of its readership, the thesis maintains that a structural analysis does not identify an important aspect of the genre - that it always contemporary to the time in which it is written (rather than set), and therefore provides insight into the cultural aspects of the society in which it is set (Author's abstract).