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Penny Dreadfuls

Posted by James Briggs on October 23, 2002

In Reply to: Penny Dreadfuls posted by TheFallen on October 23, 2002

: : : How did the term "Dime novel" originate? thanks much

: : DIME NOVEL - "a cheap, sensational novel, 1864 (Erastis F. and Irwin P. Beadle began publishing the Dime Book Series in 1860 with Ann S. Stephen's novel 'Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter,' which thus became the first dime novel.)" From Listening to America: An Illustrated History of Words and Phrases from Our Lively and Splendid Past by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).

: : And what were "penny dreadfuls"? Were they also sensational publications? I'm think that's a British term.

: You're right. "Penny Dreadfuls" were mid 19th Century proto-comics, dealing with lurid and sensational (at least for the time) subject matters. Serial killers, monsters and vampires were favourite subjects, and you could bet your bottom farthing that some chaste young thing would end up spectacularly murdered in every issue - as to anti-heroes, I believe that there was a "Varney the Vampire" and someone called Spring-heeled Jack too.

There was also a variation in the shape of two different editions of the same publication - 'penny plain, tu'penny (two penny) coloured'.

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