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related: dime novel - education - industrial revolution - literature - newspaper - paper - pulp

Literacy history

The history of literacy is several thousand years old, but before the industrial revolution finally made cheap paper and cheap books available to all classes in industrialized countries, in the mid-nineteenth century, literacy existed only in a tiny minority of the world's different societies. Until then, materials associated with literacy were so expensive that only wealthy people and institutions could afford them. As an example, in 1841 England 33% of men and 44% of women signed marriage certificates with their mark as they were unable to write. Only in 1870 was primary education made available for all in England. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literacy#Literacy_history [Jul 2005]

The application of steam power to the industrial processes of printing supported a massive expansion of newspaper and popular book publishing, which reinforced rising literacy and demands for mass political participation. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_Revolution#Effects [Jul 2005]

see also: paper - mass - newspaper - printing - pulp

Mass readership in the Victorian era

For the first time, pornography was produced in a volume capable of satisfying a mass readership.

Oddly, the industry was founded by a gang of political radicals who used sales of erotica to subsidise their campaigning and pamphleteering: when, in the 1840s, the widely-anticipated British revolution failed to materialise, these booksellers and printers found that their former sideline had become too profitable to relinquish. Lubricious stories such as Lady Pokingham, or, They All Do it (1881), and hardcore daguerreotypes, photographs and magic lantern slides, demonstrate the omnivorous nature of Victorian sexuality.

Don't imagine that this material comprised tame pictures of gartered ladies standing in front of cheese plants; any permutation or peccadillo you can conceive is represented in the work that has survived from the period. And it was produced in huge quantities: in 1874, the Pimlico studio of Henry Hayler, one of the most prominent producers of such material was loaded up with 130,248 obscene photographs and five thousand magic lantern slides - which gives some idea of the extent of its appeal. --Matthew Sweet, Sex, Drugs and Music Hall, 01-08-2001, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/society_culture/society/pleasure_03.shtml [Jun 2004]

Illustrated Newspaper [...]

Illustrated London News

This new journalistic form began in England in 1842 with the Illustrated London News. The illustrated newspaper was the television of its age, creating an impact by giving a new dimension to the news. This lively form of journalism presented the news of the world at large, using artist-engravers as illustrator-writers, an early version of correspondents. --http://www.printsoldandrare.com/homermore.html [Dec 2004]

Penny Press newspapers

Penny Press newspapers were cheap, tabloid-style papers produced in the middle of the 19th century.

The First Penny Press Paper
In 1833, Benjamin Day, publisher of the New York Sun, discovered that if he published sensationalist stories, he could greatly expand the paper's circulation by appealing to the common working-class reader. Advertisers would then be willing to pay enough for ad space that Day could drop the price per daily paper from five cents to just one. Benjamin Day's "penny press" is often identified as the first time that reading material was truly affordable to common people.

Technological Factors
It took more than just Benjamin Day's business sense and populism to produce the penny press. In the preceding half century, the printing press underwent several important technological innovations, in keeping with the industrial revolution of the time. By the time Day established the Sun, the printing press frame was converted from wood to steel, the press was steam powered, and the printing surface was a cylindrical cast of the letter punches. More innovations would follow shortly after, including the switch from printing on discrete pieces of paper to printing on continuous rolls.

Political Factors
Political and demographic changes were also significant. Much of the success of the newspaper in the early United States owes itself to the attitude of the founding fathers toward the press. Many of them saw the free press as one of the most essential elements in maintaining the liberty and equality of citizens. Thomas Jefferson said he considered the free press even more important than the government itself: "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." It was because of this attitude that freedom of the press gains mention in the First Amendment to the Constitution, and though early politicians, including Jefferson, occasionally made attempts to reign in the press, newspapers flourished in the new nation.

Demographic Factors
Soon after Benjamin Day's New York Sun began selling papers for a penny, James Gordon Bennett started the New York Herald in 1835, and Horace Greeley started the New York Tribune in 1841. Three daily penny press papers in one city were possible because of the large population of New York City and surrounding cities, due to the recent urbanization in industrialized New England. By the 1830s the general population had become both sufficiently localized and sufficiently literate that a penny press newspaper could have a weekly circulation of 50,000. For comparison, the influential Spectator of a little over a century earlier had a maximum circulation per issue of about 4,000. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_Press [May 2005]

Cheap newspapers

The "cheap" newspaper arrived in France in 1836 with Emile de Girardin's La Presse. Newspapers were also selling for a penny or two in England in the first half of the nineteenth century; however, there was one major difference between these papers and their American counterparts: The English penny papers -- the "pauper press," they were called -- had to evade the stamp tax, which by 1815 was up to fourpence on each copy sold, so they were illegal. More than 560 different unstamped newspapers were printed in England between 1830 and 1836. One, Henry Hetherington's Twopenny Dispatch, was reported to have a circulation of 27,000 in 1836.

The English penny papers, because they lived outside the law, tended to be extremely radical in their politics. "Politics is the noble art of dividing society into two classes - Slaves and Robbers, wrote another of Hetherington's papers, the Poor Man's Guardian in 1834. The British stamp tax was abolished in 1855.

Most of the American penny papers were less interested in politics; nevertheless, they did have the effect of bringing many working class people and immigrants in the cities into the political process by providing them with a source of news they could afford. The Sun's motto was the egalitarian statement: "It Shines for All"; and the rise of the penny press has been connected with the spread of Jacksonian democracy in the United States.

The major effect these penny papers had on the politics of the newspaper, however, may have been the change their mass circulations brought to the economic status of publishers. Bennett, who had started his Herald for $500, became a rich man. The Sun was sold for $250,000 in 1849. Newspapers were becoming big businesses, and the owners of big businesses tend to have more conservative politics. --http://www.nyu.edu/classes/stephens/Collier's%20page.htm [May 2005]

Dime novels and penny dreadfuls

In the United States is the 19th century, a dime novel was a low-priced novel that could be purchased for a dime. The original dime novels were published in a tabloid format.

The British English equivalent term was "penny dreadful."

Dime novels and penny dreadfuls often involved melodramatic tales of vice and virtue in conflict, often with strong elements of horror and cruelty.

Many American dime novels, on the other hand, had inspirational themes. Horatio Alger, Jr. was a notable writer in this genre. Theodore Dreiser and Upton Sinclair often wrote dime novels under pseudonyms. New York City-based firm Street & Smith, founded in 1855, was one of the most prolific publishers of the genre.

On June 9, 1860, Malaeska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter became the first dime novel to be published.

Philip Pullman has written several "modern penny dreadfuls" in this style including Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well, (The Sally Lockhart Trilogy) which, while themselves penny dreadfuls, also incorporate the atmosphere in which the novels thrived.

Stanford University has a collection of over 8,000 individual dime novels, and a web site devoted to the subject. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dime_novel [Feb 2005]

Les Mystères de Paris (10 vols., 1842-1843) - Eugène Sue

Eugène Sue was strongly affected by the Socialist ideas of the day, and these prompted his most famous works: Les Mystères de Paris (10 vols., 1842-1843) and Le Juif errant (translated, ""The Wandering Jew"") (10 vols., 1844-1845), which were among the most popular specimens of the roman-feuilleton. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%E8ne_Sue [Feb 2005]

Mid 1800s: first serials

In the mid-nineteenth century magazines publishing short stories and serials began to be popular. Some of them were more respectable, while others were referred to by the derogatory name of penny dreadfuls. In 1844 Alexandre Dumas published a novel The Three Musketeers (Les Trois Mousquetaires) and wrote The Count of Monte Cristo which was published in installments over the next two years. William Makepeace Thackeray published The Luck of Barry Lyndon. In Britain Charles Dickens published several of his books in installments in magazines: The Pickwick Papers, followed, in the next few years, by Oliver Twist (1837-1839), Nicholas Nickleby (1838-1839), The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-1841), Barnaby Rudge (1841), A Christmas Carol (1843) and Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-1844). In America a version of the penny dreadful became popularly known as a dime novel. In the dime novels the reputations of gunfighters and other wild west heroes or villains were created or exaggerated. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_literature:_Modern_literature#The_middle_of_the_century [Feb 2005]

Rise of pulp

With dime novel sales declining due to the rise of motion pictures in the late 1890s, a number of enterprising publishers developed a new genre--pulp fiction, which was aimed specifically at adult readers. Frank Munsey, a dime novel publisher, consolidated his juvenile publications and transformed them into a story paper for grown-ups, The Argosy All Story Weekly. The team of Street and Smith responded in kind with Popular Magazine, a review featuring the early work of H. G. Wells and H. Rider Haggard. By 1920, pulp fiction was readily available at newsstands around the country and achieved a readership much larger than that of dime novels in their heyday. --http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/dp/pennies/1920_pulp.html [Jun 2005]

It was around this time, the late 1890s, that pulp paper was introduced. This would soon become a great boon to the budding men's magazine industry and to the print-hungry public. Prior to pulp, all paper was made of rag - often literally recycled cotton clothing - whitened with clay. Paper such as this provides beautiful reproduction and is extremely durable; books printed on it can last hundreds of years. It is also comparatively expensive to produce and makes little sense for printing cheap, disposable magazines upon. Still, until 1890, this is what most magazines were printed on, while newspapers were on thin, so-called newsprint. Pulp paper came out of the new western timber industry. --http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/excerpts/sex/show/4/118.htm [Jul 2005]


Groschenroman wird eine Form von Unterhaltungsliteratur bezeichnet. Es handelt sich in der Regel um Romane im Heftformat (DIN A5), die auch Groschenhefte genannt werden, da sie ursprünglich lediglich einen oder mehrere Groschen kosteten.

Heute kosten die in Heftform publizierten Romane zwischen 2 und 3 Euro, sodass man eigentlich nicht mehr von Groschen-Romanen - wohl eher von Heftromanen - sprechen kann.

Heftromane finden sich ab der Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts als in hohen Auflagen und meist wöchentlich erscheinende Druckerzeugnisse auf dem Buch - und Zeitschriftenmarkt in den meisten Ländern Europas und in Nordamerika. In England und Nordamerika wurden sie analog zum deutschen Begriff als Penny Dreadfuls oder Dime Novel bezeichnet, in Deutschland wurden im 19. Jahrhundert auch die Begriffe Eisenbahnliteratur oder (seitens der Verlage) Conversations- und Reiseliteratur verwendet. Groschenromane erschienen damals in kleinen Formaten von 50 bis 100 Seiten, die teilweise reich illustriert waren. --http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groschenroman [Feb 2005]

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