The Dime Novel in Children's Literature

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Dime Novel

The Dime Novel in Children's Literature by Vicki Anderson


The Dime Novel in Children's Literature by Vicki Anderson. Jefferson, North Carolina: MacFarland Publishers, (2005); also published in London; trade paperback on alkaline paper; large 8vo; 268 pp.

This well-written book can certainly be used for its fascinating background information and analysis of Dime Novels, everything from history, plot structure, and author biographies to the influence of postal regulations. (Also see the excellent Appendix) However, The Dime Novel in Children's Literature is much more than that.

The book begins with a concise, objective history of English language publications expressly for children. Then it follows, chapter by chapter, threads of inexpensive pulp, or popular fiction, accessible to or directed toward children, with the purpose of entertainment and "mass" sales, thus:

Chapters on the precursors of the actual "Dime Novel in English language literature: Broadsides, Chapbooks, Street Cries, Hornbooks and Battledores, Toy Books, Penny Dreadfuls.
Then a 65 page chapter on Dime Novels.
Followed by chapters on successors to the Dime Novel: Series Books, Story Papers, Comics, Big Little Books, and Pulp Fiction.
Although the books is arranged chronologically, the author is refreshingly clear about the fallacy of attempting to define exact time periods or successions.

In the conclusion, the author, a librarian who has also written five notable selection guides for librarians and teachers, discusses the problems of researching pulp paper literature, the insights this research gives into social history, and its restrictions to anglo audiences. (Apparently, "popular" pulp fiction did no better than the early editors and librarians in respecting all Americans, perhaps not as well!)

A. Chronology of the Dime Novel and Related Works (1860 - 1902)
Interestingly, Anderson inserts parallel "literarily acceptible" books published in the same years.
B. Annotated Bibliography of Dime Novels 22 double column pages.
C. List of Series Books. These are true series, rather than Books in Succession, about as "literarily acceptible" as they get is The Little Colonel. Not every single title is cited, but there is a very full selection of 19th c to mid 20th c series. 25 double column pages.
D. Periodicals (Story Papers) "Youth's Companion", yes; "St. Nicholas" no.
E. Children's Literature Year by Year: A Chronological Listing of Significant Publications 1484 to the 1900's (titles mentioned in the text)  Although it has become quite evident before we come to page 222, Anderson's annotated list establishes her a someone deeply familiar with the broader range of children's literature, and thus an author able to write about pulp fiction in context.
F. List of Pseudonyms
G. List of Character names. Accompanied by the author and series in which they appear.
H. Biographical Dictionary. The authors, printers, publishers, and others who are mentioned in this book.

References: thorough, as one might expect.