Scholarship

This page contains a list of key works of dime novel scholarship, intended as a starting point for new researchers. Omitted are works that may include essays or chapters about dime novels, such as genre studies or cultural studies, but which devote the majority of their contents to other topics. If you'd like to suggest adding a work of scholarship to this list, please contact us.

Bibliographies and Reference Works

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

This encyclopedia includes entries for series, authors, publishers, and genres, an invaludable reference for researchers, especially those who are new to the field. The Companion also includes a succinct introduction to the format and a publishing chronology.

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.

One of the definitive works of dime novel scholarship, this three-volume set contains a comprehensive bibliography of every series published by Beadle and Adams, as well as a history of the firm and biographies for every Beadle author.

LeBlanc, Edward T. Edward T. LeBlanc Bibliography of Story Papers, Dime Novels, and Libraries. Unpublished.

LeBlanc, a long-time editor of the Dime Novel Round-Up, compiled a comprehensive bibliography for virtually every dime novel, story paper, and nickel weekly series, excluding those published by Beadle and Adams. Although unpublished, scans of the bibliography in its original form are available from Villanova University and are being used as the foundation for dimenovels.org.

Dissertations and Theses

Excluded from this list are theses that were developed into full-length monographs, which are instead listed below.

Arbuthnott, Shane. By a Celebrated Author: Nick Carter, Frederic Dey and Authorial Voice in Dime Novels. University of Guelph, 2010. Thesis.

Discusses how concerns about authorship are inscribed into dime novels themselves by examining works by the author of Nick Carter, Frederic Dey.

Barry, Teresa Trupiano. Rhetorics of Representation: Race, Gender, and Intermarriage in the Frontier Fiction of Ann S. Stephens, 1838-1865. Michigan State University, 2001. Dissertation.

Analyzes the tension in Ann S. Stephen's frontier fiction between the desire to reveal racial prejudice, while still creating a sense of verisimilitude. Focuses on novels about intermarriage between whites and Indians, examining Stephens' larger-than-life Indian women characters.

Carney, Carol Ruth. Constructive Narratives of American Culture and Identity: Beadle's Dime Novels By and About Women, 1860-1870. The Claremont Graduate University, 1995. Dissertation.

Examines dime novels written by women and published by Beadle and Adams, including Western romances and political novels about abolition and racial tensions, arguing that these novels were used to educate and empower women readers.

Carr, Felicia Luz. All for Love: Gender, Class, and the Woman's Dime Novel in Nineteenth-Century America. George Mason University, 2003. Dissertation.

Examines how the dime novel was used to reframe the behaviors of working women, especially their social relations, and how they were used to create a "new romantic subjectivity" for women.

Farkas, Angela. Sensational Tales and Working-Girl Melodrama: Popular Story Paper Fiction and Its Readers in Late Nineteenth-Century America. University of Pittsburgh, 2003. Dissertation.

Analyzes the work of Mrs. Alex McVeigh Miller and Laura Jean Libbey for story papers of the 1870s and 1880s, focusing on their production and reception. Argues that while these stories are sensational melodrama, they are much more subversive than they are often credited. 

Moon, Cameron. The "Hybrid Hero" in Western Dime Novels: An Analysis of Women's Gender Performance, Dress, and Identity in the Deadwood Dick Series. Colorado State University, 2012. Thesis.

Uses reflection theory to explore the use of cross-dressing and androgynous dress to construct gender identities in five Deadwood Dick novels that feature Calamity Jane.

Pecek, Louis George. The Beadle Story Paper, 1870-1897: A Study of Popular Fiction. Ohio State University, 1959. Dissertation.

A study of Beadle's story papers, analyzing the story paper author, as well as major genres like domestic fiction, westerns, and detective stories.

Williams, Nathaniel. Steam Men, Edisons, Connecticut Yankees: Technocracy and Imperial Identity in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction. University of Kansas, 2010. Dissertation.

Analyzes how technology is represented in dime novels, and in particular, how it was used to construct American identities and justify imperial expansion.

Journals

Dime Novel Round-Up: A Magazine Devoloted to the Collection, Preservation, and Study of Old-Time Dime and Nickel Novels, Popular Story Papers, Series Books, and Pulp Magazines, ed. Marlena E. Bremseth.

The Dime Novel Round-Up has been in print since 1952 and is the only journal devoted specifically to dime novel scholarship and collecting. The index is available through the MLA International Bibliography and online for 1970-2016. Published quarterly.

Edited Volumes

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.

A collection of essays about popular fiction, with multiple entries on dime novels, story papers, and reprint libraries.

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.

A collection of essays about popular fiction that was produced after a Library of Congress symposium.

Memoirs

Edward, John Milton. The Fiction Factory. Ridgewood: The Editor Company, 1912.

A first-hand account of the author's twenty-two-year career as a writer of cheap fiction, written by dime novelist (and creator of Plotto) William Wallace Cook.

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

Contains reminisces of the author and other readers who grew up reading dime novels. Despite factual inaccuracies, the text provides unique first-hand insight into the early audience of the dime novel.

Monographs

Anderson, Ryan K. Frank Merriwell and the Fiction of All-American Boyhood: The Progressive Era Creation of the Schoolboy Sport Story. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2015.

Anderson examines the school and sports stories about Frank Merriwell in the context of the history of sport during the Progressive Era, discussing how the character was used to promote an idea of American boyhood. Includes not only close reading of Tip Top Weekly stories, but also analysis of readers letters, advertisements, and editorial correspondence.

Anderson, Vicki. The Dime Novel in Children's Literature. Jefferson: McFarland & Co., 2005.

Anderson, a retired school librarian, places the dime novel into the broader context of children's literature, tracing the evolution of the format from broadsides and chapbooks to pulps and comics. Unfortunately, the book contains multiple factual inaccuracies.

Bedore, Pamela. Dime Novels and the Roots of American Detective Fiction. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Bedore examines the tension created between subversive and conservative impules in detective dime novels, paying particular attention to representations of gender, race, and class. She also discusses the appeal of such novels to Mark Twain and William Faulkner.

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

Denning examines the dime novel from the perspective of Marxist literary theory and American labor history, examining how the working class is portrayed. The first part of the book features an overview of dime novel producers and consumers, while later chapters includes close readings of individual dime novels.

Charts the evolution of the Western genre in the dime novel and the development of conventionalized plots and narrative formulas.

Jones, Daryl. The Dime Novel Western. Bowling Green: The Popular Press, 1978.

Jones charts of the evolution of the Western genre in the dime novel and the development of conventionalized plots and narrative formulas. Based on Jones' dissertation 1974 Michigan State University dissertation.

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

Noel's book is the most comprehensive history of the story paper. Beginning with an overview of publishers and various format changes, it also includes chapters on the story paper author, reader, and characters. Villains Galore is an abridged version of Noel's dissertation, which includes the citations missing from her book and is available online from Proquest.

Reynolds, Quentin. The Fiction Factory, or, From Pulp Row to Quality Street. New York: Random House, 1955.

A history of Street and Smith, commissioned by the publisher upon their 100th year anniversary.

Websites

Women and the World of Dime Novels

An online exhibit hosted by the American Antiquarian Society and curated by AAS cataloger Brenna Bychowski that examines recurring tropes and characters in dime novels by about about women.

American Women's Dime Novel Project

A website created by Felicia L. Carr and hosted by George Masion University that grew out of her dissertation (above) about women in dime novels. In addition to essays on the history of women's dime novels, women authors, and publishers, there are several full-text novels and a cover gallery.

Fanny Fern in the New York Ledger

Explores the work Fanny Fern did for the New York Ledger as a columnist from January 1856 until her death in 1872. Includes a collection of Fern's columns.

Papers for the People: Dime Novels and Early Mass Market Publishing

An online exhibit hosted by Villanova University and curated by Demian Katz that provides a comprehensive overview of the dime novel, including general background, information about authors and readers, an analysis of recurring characters, a discussion about the controversy surrounding them, and an examination of related forms of popular fiction.

19th-Century Girls' Series

Deidre Johnson's website devoted to girls series books, which includes biographies and bibliographies for several women dime novel authors.