The phrase “little did she/he/they know” has plenty of history. The question is, when did it start being used for cheap suspense? The inversion of subject and verb sounds stilted and melodramatic, so the obvious culprit would be 19th century fiction. But perhaps not everything is as it seems.
Once upon a time, in an age older than our fathers’s fathers, far, far away, on a night just like this one (it was dark and stormy), cliches were born. Follow this string of red letters to see where, exactly, some of these came from.