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 Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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