You are exploring:  Library  >
Exhibits Home  > 
Dime Novels  > 



Carter, John, ed. New Paths in Book Collecting: Essays by Various Hands. 1934; repr. Freeport: Books for Libraries Press, 1967.


This collection describes various types of collectible books; dime novels have only cursory coverage, but this contains one of the most comprehensive articles on the British Yellowback.


Cox, J. Randolph. The Dime Novel Companion: A Source Book. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2000.


This encyclopedic work features entries for major authors, characters, publishers and series in the dime novel universe. It also includes a useful overview of the field and a chronology of important works. This is an extremely useful reference, although it does not provide comprehensive bibliographies in any of its entries – there is only sufficient space for selected representative tites.


Denning, Michael. Mechanic Accents: Dime Novels and Working Culture in America. London: Verso, 1987.


This book attempts a social history of the dime novel, looking at how it portrayed the working classes and how they consumed it. Along the way, it discusses many trends and developments in popular fiction and offers detailed literary analysis of several subgenres. The book uses the broadest possible definition of “dime novel,” spending a lot of time looking at early story papers and offering early history not found in some other dime novel histories. It is useful for this deep background as well as for its slightly unusual perspective on the subject.


Haining, Peter. The Penny Dreadful; or, Strange, Horrid & Sensational Tales. London: Victor Gollancz, 1975.


This anthology collects substantial excerpts from representative British, French and American works published during the penny dreadful era. Each tale or chapter is preceded with detailed historical background, making it an extremely useful survey of the most significant precursors to the dime novels.


Johannsen, Albert. The House of Beadle and Adams and Its Dime and Nickel Novels: The Story of a Vanished Literature. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1950.


This three-volume work includes a comprehensive history of Beadle and Adams, lists of all Beadle dime novel series, author biographies and many full-color illustrations.  It is available online courtesy of Northern Illinois University.


Noel, Mary. Villains Galore... The Heyday of the Popular Story Weekly. New York: Macmillan, 1954.


Probably the most comprehensive look at American story papers, this volume covers the history of major titles and publishers as well as providing an analysis of the contents of the papers and the audiences that read them.  Because of the close relationship between story papers and dime novels, the book also contains a substantial amount of information directly relevant to dime novels.


Pearson, Edmund. Dime Novels; or, Following an Old Trail in Popular Literature. 1929; repr., Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1968.


This book leaves much to be desired as a research tool – it is rambling and disorganized, frequently interrupting its historical narrative to spend pages summarizing the plot of one specific dime novel or another.  It also contains some factual errors.  However, its shortcomings are somewhat compensated for by the fact that it is written by an author who grew up reading dime novels, and it features reminiscences by a number of other readers. This personal connection helps put the dime novel phenomenon in a human context, making this worth a look if taken with a grain of salt.


Schurman, Lydia Cushman and Deidre Johnson, eds. Scorned Literature: Essays on the History and Criticism of Popular Mass-Produced Fiction in America. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2002.


This collection of essays discusses several popular forms of entertainment generally dismissed by the literary establishment. Dime novels are given a lot of coverage, as are their contemporaries, the story papers and cheap libraries.


Springhall, John. Youth, Popular Culture and Moral Panics: Penny Gaffs to Gangsta Rap, 1830-1996. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.


An examination of the cyclical “moral panics” that follow the popularization of new forms of entertainment, this book devotes significant space to dime novels and penny dreadfuls. Having a British focus, the text gives more attention to the “dreadful” than its American cousin, but similar entertainments from around the world are touched on. The book actually devotes at least as much space to general history and content analysis than to the “moral panic” aspect, making it useful as a general reference, but readers hoping for a narrow focus on the topic at hand may be disappointed.


Srebnick, Amy Gilman and René Lévy, eds. Crime and Culture: An Historical Perspective. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005.


This collection of essays examining the relationships between crime and culture features a detailed examination of the dime novel detective story which studies patterns and trends in a representative sampling of books from the genre.


Sullivan, Larry E. and Lydia Cushman Schurman, eds. Pioneers, Passionate Ladies, and Private Eyes: Dime Novels, Series Books, and Paperbacks. New York: Haworth Press, 1996.


This collection of essays on popular fiction originated as a Library of Congress symposium. A large number of the articles in the collection deal with dime novels, and a broad variety of topics are covered. This is very useful for the reader interested in closer examinations of interesting issues within the genre, making it a good companion to some of the more general histories of the form.