Dime Novels

dime novels, swift-moving, thrilling novels, mainly about the American Revolution, the frontier period, and the Civil War. The books were first sold in 1860 for 10 cents by the firm of Beadle and Adams. The earliest was Malaeska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter (1860), by Anne Stephens, which is said to have sold 300,000 copies in the first year; similar novels sold by the thousands throughout the country and especially in the Civil War camps. Such men as Bruin Adams, Col. Mayne Reid, Col. Prentiss Ingraham, W. F. Cody, and Ned Buntline wrote of their own adventures. Among the most famous series were those about Deadwood Dick, by Edward L. Wheeler, and those about Nick Carter. After 1880, imitators entered the field with lurid stories that dealt in blood and thunder. Their popularity lasted until the 1890s, when they began to be replaced by pulp magazines, comic strips, and series of stories such as those about the Rover Boys and Frank Merriwell.

See E. Pearson, Dime Novels (1929); A. Johannsen, The House of Beadle and Adams and its Dime and Nickel Novels (3 vol., 1962).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Dime Novels: Selected full-text books and articles

The Dime Novel Companion: A Source Book
J. Randolph Cox.
Greenwood Press, 2000
The Dime Novel Western
Daryl Jones.
Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1978
Dime Novels: Or, Following an Old Trail in Popular Literature
Edmund Lester Pearson.
Little, Brown, and Company, 1929
American Sensations: Class, Empire, and the Production of Popular Culture
Shelley Streeby.
University of California Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Part 3 "Land, Labor, and Empire in the Dime Novel"
We the Women: Career Firsts of Nineteenth-Century America
Madeleine B. Stern.
University of Nebraska Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "The Author of the First Beadle Dime Novel"
Ladies of Labor, Girls of Adventure: Working Women, Popular Culture, and Labor Politics at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
Nan Enstad.
Columbia University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. One "Cheap Dresses and Dime Novels: The First Commodities for Working Women"
War and American Popular Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia
M. Paul Holsinger.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Beadle and Adams Dime Novels" p. 85
The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature
Humphrey Carpenter; Mari Prichard.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Dime Novels" begins on p. 150
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