The Age of Dimes and Pulps

A History of Sensationalist Literature, 1830–1960

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About the Book

From the dime novels of the Civil War era to the pulp magazines of the early 20th century to modern paperbacks, lurid fiction has provided thrilling escapism for the masses. Cranking out formulaic stories of melodrama, crime and mild erotica—often by uncredited authors focused more on volume than quality—publishers realized high profits playing to low tastes. Estimates put pulp magazine circulation in the 1930s at 30 million monthly.
This vast body of “disposable literature” has received little critical attention, in large part because much of it has been lost—the cheaply made books were either discarded after reading or soon disintegrated. Covering the history of pulp literature from 1850 through 1960, the author describes how sensational tales filled a public need and flowered during the evolving social conditions of the Industrial Revolution.

About the Author(s)

Jeremy Agnew, a biomedical electronics consultant, holds a PhD in engineering and has been involved in the design and manufacture of medical devices for more than 30 years. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has written several books on the Old West.

Bibliographic Details

Jeremy Agnew
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 242
Bibliographic Info: 45 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6948-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3257-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface    1
1. A Love of the Lurid 5
2. Publishing the Sensational 22
3. Enter the Dime Novel 33
4. Dime Novel Heroes 50
5. Glorifying the Outlaws 64
6. The Rise of the Detective 79
7. Transition to the Pulps 91
8. Fantastic Heroes and High Adventure 105
9. Detectives Become Hard Boiled 121
10. And Even Harder Boiled 134
11. Pulp Visions of the Cowboy 145
12. The Western Pulp Matures 158
13. Pulps for Everyone 173
14. Yellow Perils and Weird Menaces 188
15. The Pulps Fade Away 204
Postscript    219
Chapter Notes    221
Bibliography    228
Index    231