Penny Dreadfuls


Nov 1, 2008
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Would it have been conceivable that a 3rd Class passenger like Will Sage would have brought a penny dreadful or two on board to read on the voyage? I know that they were available at the time, and geared to his age group. I want to use it as a character point in a YA novel I am working on, but not if it would have been impossible or unlikely. Any speculation would be appreciated.
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Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Very likely, I'd say. I'm not sure whether the term 'Penny Dreadful' was still in use in 1912, but publications of the kind were still very popular with adolescent boys. Here's a link to the complete text and pics of a 1905 edition of The Union Jack, featuring the popular detective hero Sexton Blake:

http://www.erbzine.com/mag18/jungleboy.htm
 
May 27, 2007
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I remember reading a Penny Dreadful from 1847 called 'Varney The Vampire and The Feast Of Blood'. I don't know how widely read it was in 1912 or how popular but it was a good one. I was about 13 when i read this and enjoyed it immensely.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varney_the_Vampire

Dime Novels or Western Dime Novels where poplar with boys. Zane Grey wrote his first novel in 1903 about his ancestor, Betty Zane a Revolutionary War Heroine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zane_Grey

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betty_Zane
 

Eric Longo

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Hi George,

I remember reading about that when I was younger - when I saw the term "Penny Dreadful " I thought right away of "Varney The Vampire" and its cover "artwork", and also the other, later Gothic novel "Carmilla". Also I was reminded of the 1894 Munch canvas "Love and Pain". Long time since I thought of these things.

Best,
Eric
 
Nov 1, 2008
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This is an entire lovely field of research on its own.
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For purposes of the book, I am just using the generic term...lol
 
May 27, 2007
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Hi Rie,
This is an entire lovely field of research on its own.
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Yep, sure is.

Dime Novel is a good description to use for Pulp Fiction. I don't know if the term 'Dime Novel' was in use then. Bob Godfrey would know. The term 'Pulp Fiction' wasn't in use then. I don't think it was?
 
Nov 1, 2008
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According to Wikipedia (good enough for a first draft research...) the term Penny Dreadful itself was still in use at the time, and evokes the feel that I want.
 
May 27, 2007
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the term Penny Dreadful itself was still in use at the time, and evokes the feel that I want.
Well then I'd use it. Go for it
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Penny Dreadful and Titanic do go together. Impending doom kinda feel to it. I guess because the term Penny Dreadful invokes 'Varney the Vampire' to me. I think the term 'Dime Novel' is an American Slangism anyways. Or is it? Hmm.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Dime novels started at the time of your Civil War, George, when they were actually titled as such. But even then a lot of them cost 15c!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Rie, it would be historically accurate I think for The Sages to refer to their sons' reading matter as Penny Dreadfuls or Penny Bloods, as parents are never up to date with the latest terminology! The boys themselves would probably have referred to them by name - The Magnet, The Gem, Union Jack, etc. Publishers referred to these more respectable evolutions of the PD as 'boys' weeklies' or 'story papers', which were just getting off the ground in the first decade of the new century and enjoyed massive circulations in the years between the World Wars. After that we kids in the UK developed more of a taste for the American style comic strip format. The old story papers for boys (and girls) soldiered on well into my time, but faded away in the '50s. Doing all that reading was too much like hard work!
 
Nov 1, 2008
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Well, so far, the times they have been mentioned are in narrative, when I wanted to establish the genre her was reading, and when Dolly is thinking that he is probably telling the children a story from one of his penny dreadfuls. So, so far, a title is not strictly necessary, but when it comes time to flesh out the book after the skeleton is formed, I may change that.
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May 27, 2007
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Hi Bob,
Dime novels started at the time of your Civil War, George, when they were actually titled as such. But even then a lot of them cost 15c!
Make it sound cheap. A Publisher probably thought lets call 'em Dime Novels so folks think the books are cheap. 15 Cents!
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Dime and Nickel Novel sounds like a pit much to say and pay.
 

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