Kate Warne

Created (well, fictionalized) by Greer Macallister

Inspired by real-life operative for the equally real-life Pinkerton Detective Agency, Girl in Disguise (2017) presents an occasionally fictionalized version of the extraordinary life of KATE WARNE, one of that agency’s first female ops.

A determined young widow trying to scrape by on the mean streets of 1850s Chicago, she convinces the founder of the agency, Allan J. Pinkerton, to hire her as a detective, and soon finds herself right in the thick of things, one of the key players in the early days of the agency, with a penchant for undercover work.

By the way, this isn’t the first time Warne has been fictionalized. She appears in Pinkerton’s Secret (2008) by Eric Lerner, which imagines a steamy affair between Allen J. Pinkerton himself and his pretty young operative, as well as a secret alliance with abolitionist John Brown at the outbreal of the Civil War.

The real  Kate Warne, who was born in 1833 in Erin, New York, and finding herself a widow at a young age, applied for a position at the Pinkerton Detective Agency’s offices in Chicago. Not as a secretary, though, as Allan Pinkerton assumed, but for the position of detective, in response to a newspaper ad.

Pinkerton was initially reluctant, but Warne, according to Pinkerton Spy, Feminist Icon “made a convincing argument, noting that women could be ‘most useful in worming out secrets in many places which would be impossible for a male detective’ and that as a woman, she could more easily befriend the wives and girlfriends of suspects, gaining their confidence, adding that men often brag around women and that women have a better eye for detail and observation. Pinkerton, who later described her as ‘a commanding person” whose intellectual and honest features made her seem like a good confidante, hired Warne, making her the first female detective in the U.S.'”



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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