A Database of Cheap Literature, 1837-1860
By Marie Léger-St-Jean
University of Cambridge
"unlock the material for other research purposes"
— William St Clair, The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period
Welcome to Price One Penny: A Database of Cheap Literature, 1837-1860 (POP). This project aims to catalogue early Victorian penny fiction and thereby enable easy access to surviving copies and accurate bibliographic information. It is peer-reviewed and aggregated into NINES.
Victorianist scholars and collectors alike should find it very helpful. It will also prove of use to those researching transmission of French and American popular culture. You may search by title or browse by work, author, publisher, periodical, or library.
[More info on the major December 2012 update]
What are penny bloods?
Penny bloods are novels published either in penny periodicals of varying sizes or in weekly autonomous penny numbers, usually comprising eight pages with a woodcut on the first. Serials from periodicals could also be reprinted on their own. Read more...
POP's records are linked to many other resources, online or in print:
- copies in libraries throughout the world;
- periodicals' entries in the Waterloo Directory;
- authors' and publishers' biographies in ODNB;
- entries on authors, periodicals, and publishers in the online version of the DNCJ in the Nineteenth Century Index;
- authors' entries in the online version of the Wellesley Index in the Nineteenth Century Index;
- publishers' entries in the BBTI;
- authors' case files in the archive of the RLF;
- authors' biographies in the Literary Encyclopedia;
- plays (both source texts and dramatizations) in the Lord Chamberlain's Plays, ELTA, and the Victorian Plays Project;
- digitized copies in Google Books, HathiTrust, and the Internet Archive;
- digitized periodicals in 19th Century British Library Newspapers, 19th Century UK Periodicals, and British Periodicals;
- title entries in existing bibliographies by Montague Summers, John Medcraft, Andrew Block, Michael Sadleir, Louis James, Joel H. Wiener, Everett Franklin Bleiler, Elizabeth James and Helen R. Smith, and Andrew King.
Currently, the database contains 548 editions by 59 publishers of 490 different works written by 52 identified penny authors. It also contains 99 serials from 18 periodicals. [More statistics.]
In a major update in December 2012 were added copies from British libraries found by Elizabeth Stearns through COPAC, all penny bloods in Oxford's Pettingell collection as well as the entirety of George W. M. Reynolds's œuvre published in penny weekly numbers.
POP contains all penny books published until 1860 indexed in:
- Bleiler, Everett Franklin. "Bibliography." George W. M. Reynolds. Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf. New York: Dover Publications, 1975.
- James, Elizabeth and Helen R. Smith. Penny dreadfuls and boys' adventures : the Barry Ono Collection of Victorian popular literature in the British Library. London: British Library, 1998.
- James, Louis. Fiction for the working man, 1830-1850; a study of the literature produced for the working classes in early Victorian urban England. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1963.
- James, Louis. "A Bibliography of Works by G.W.M. Reynolds." G.W.M. Reynolds: Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Politics, and the Press. Ed. Anne Humpherys & Louis James. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008. 273-278.
- Medcraft, John. Bibliography of the penny bloods of Edward Lloyd. Dundee: privately printed (by J.A. Birkbeck.), 1945.
It is missing 31 indexed serials from the London Journal. Work on the database is ongoing: read more about planned developments...