The Dime Novel Companion: A Source Book

The Dime Novel Companion: A Source Book

The Dime Novel Companion: A Source Book

The Dime Novel Companion: A Source Book

Synopsis

This encyclopedic guide to the American dime novel contains over 1,200 entries on serial publications, major writers and editors, publishers, and major characters, fiction genres, themes, and locales. An introduction provides a brief history of the dime novel. A discussion of dime novel scholarship includes a selected directory of libraries and museums with significant collections of dime novels. An appendix contains a publishing chronology of the more than 300 serial publications, and a selected bibliography suggests further reading.

Excerpt

In 1876 Tom Sawyer dreamed of running away to sea to return in glory as "Tom Sawyer the Pirate--
The Black Avenger of the Spanish Main!"
In 1914 Penrod Schofeld hid in an old sawdust box in the stable to write the episodic adventures of "Harold Ramorez, the Roadagent; or, Wild Life Among the Rocky Mts." In 1928 humorist p collected some of his columns from 1897 and 1898 in a book called Bang! Bang! The subtitle was "A Collection of Stories Intended to Recall Memories of the Nickel Library Days When Boys Were Supermen and Murder a Fine Art." It was illustrated by Indiana cartoonist John T. McCutcheon in fine emulations of the covers of those nickel libraries. Mark Twain, Booth Tarkington, George Ade, and John T. McCutcheon could be certain of one thing: their readers would recognize the source behind the humor to be a form of popular literature known as the dime novel.

In the beginning, the term "dime novel" was a brand name. Beadle's Dime Novels (1860-1874) was a series of paper-covered booklets, published at regular intervals, and numbered in sequence. For 14 years, a new title was issued by the publishers, Beadle and Adams, every two weeks or so, 321 in all. Each booklet was approximately 4 by 6 inches in cover size and was about 100 pages long. Each contained a work of fiction, a short novel, with a sensational and melodramatic plot, that sold for ten cents. The cover illustration, as much as the low price, attracted readers and sold the books, although the first ones to be issued bore only the titles in large letters on the cover.

Imitation being a good way to make money, as well as the sincerest form of flattery, it wasn't long before other publishers issued their own variations on the Beadle dime novel theme. In 1863, a former employee of Erastus Beadle, George P. Munro, became his chief competitor by issuing a series called . . .

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