Penny Dreadfuls

I’m so excited about the prospect of being able to access digital copies of the ORIGINALS of these historic books! SO EXCITED. Penny dreadfuls were the first instance of readily available, mass-audience oriented literature. You can say what you want about the quality of the writing and the fact that it helped extend the rise of sensationalism, but I love these stories, and not just because they represent the beginning of widespread literacy among people outside the elite classes. They, like the fairytales I mentioned earlier, provide a window into the psyche of that particular sociocultural group. They show what was interesting and important to the so-called “lowbrow” folk of that era. And that doesn’t seem to have changed much over the last century and a half or so.


Remind you of anyone?

Penny dreadfuls evolved into comic books AND pulp fiction. So because of these “lowbrow” serials, we have Double Indemnity, The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, The Maltese Falcon, as well as “Watchmen,” “Sandman,” and Joss Whedon. I think that’s a pretty incredible legacy.

Therefore I say THANK YOU, British Library, THANK YOU. Now please make these e-texts compatible with Stanza so I can see them on my iPhone.


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