Pioneers, Passionate Ladies, and Private Eyes

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Despite efforts of contemporary reformers to curb the availability of dime novels, series books, and paperbacks, Pioneers, Passionate Ladies, and Private Eyes reveals how many readers used them as means of resistance and how fictional characters became models for self-empowerment. These literary genres, whose value has long been underestimated, provide fascinating insight into the formation of American popular culture and identity. Through these mass-produced, widely read books, Deadwood Dick, Old Sleuth, and Jessie James became popular heroes that fed the public’s imagination for the last western frontier, detective tales, and the myth of the outlaw. Women, particularly those who were poor and endured hard lives, used the literature as means of escape from the social, economic, and cultural suppression they experienced in the nineteenth century.

In addition to the insight this book provides into texts such as “The Bride of the Tomb,” the Nick Carter Series, and Edward Stratemeyer’s rendition of the Lizzie Borden case, readers will find interesting information about:

  • the roles of illustrations and covers in consumer culture
  • Bowling Green’s endeavor to digitize paperback and pulp magazine covers
  • bibliographical problems in collecting and controlling series books
  • the effects of mass market fiction on young girls
  • Louisa May Alcott’s pseudonym and authorship of three dime novels
  • special collections
  • competition among publishers

    A collection of work presented at a symposium held by the Library of Congress, Pioneers, Passionate Ladies, and Private Eyes makes an outstanding contribution to redefining the role of popular fiction in American life.

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Product Details

Table of Contents


  • Introduction
  • A Brief History of Dime Novels: Formats and Contents, 1860-1933
  • Librarian in Disguise: V. Valta Parma and the Development of Popular Culture Collections at the Library of Congress
  • They Came from the Newsstand: Pulp Magazines and Vintage Paperbacks in the Popular Culture Library
  • Keeping Abreast of Series Fiction Publishing: A Challenge for Children’s Literature Bibliographers
  • The Librarian of Congress Argues Against Cheap Novels Getting Low Postal Rates
  • Authors Who Wrote Dime Novels and Series Books, 1890-1914
  • Unearthing the Historical Reader, or, Reading Girls’ Reading
  • The Anglo-American Pulp Wars: Edwin Brett vs. Frank Leslie
  • Paperback Detective: The Evolution of the Nick Carter Series from Dime Novel to Paperback, 1886-1990
  • The Possibilities of Flight: The Golden Age of American Aviation Series Books, 1927–1932
  • World War II Combat in American Juvenile and Paperback Series Books
  • Parallel Pugilists: John L. Jr. and Gentleman Jack Stories in the New(in ital) York(in ital) Five(in ital) Cent(in ital) Library(in ital)
  • Capitalism, Counterfeiting, and Literary Representation: The Case of Lizzie Borden
  • The Discovery of Louisa May Alcott’s Pseudonym
  • Dime Novels by “The Children’s Friend”
  • Advocating War Preparedness: H. Irving Hancock’s Conquest(in ital) of(in ital) the(in ital) United(in ital) States(in ital) Series(in ital)
  • “The Bride of the Tomb” or, The Story Paper Debut of Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller
  • From Immorality to Immortality: Character Transplant From Victorian Romances to the Oz Series
  • Romancing the Reader: From Laura Jean Libbey to Harlequin Romance and Beyond
  • Index
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