Cheap Literature, 1837-1860

About POP

Project Charter - History - Future - Acknowledgments
Contributors - How to Cite - Funding - Technical Notes

The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals

Price One Penny received the 2020 Field Development Grant awarded by the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals to be completed and updated. Progress has been impeded by the ongoing global pandemic, work on three co-authored articles based on POP, and a summer of virtual conferencing.

You can follow along the journey on my open notebook, Price One Penny, new series. If you would like to be notified when the new version is launched, please email me.

Project Charter

Following the Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton's call to "Document ALL the things!", I have started putting together a project charter for Price One Penny. Version 1.1 published in October 2021 contains the following elements:

Below is the documentation I last updated in 2014.


Launched in November 2010, Price One Penny (POP) was created and is maintained by Marie Léger-St-Jean, doctoral candidate of English at the University of Cambridge, to provide bibliographical and eventually biographical data about the countless publishers and authors involved in the production of penny bloods, weekly serials sold for a penny to a varied audience from the late 1830s through to the 1850s. It was peer-reviewed and aggregated into NINES in August 2011.

The database is modelled on Troy J. Bassett's At the Circulating Library. Its content draws from pioneering research by Louis James, Fiction For The Working Man (1973), and current work by Helen R. Smith, as well as from the wealth of information gathered by collectors, the true repositories of penny-publishing knowledge.

For six months starting in June 2012, Dr. Elizabeth Stearns has assisted with library copy research and data entry as well as bringing in fresh new enthusiasm. Her collaboration led to a major update in December 2012. Sarah Lill, doctoral candidate at Northumbria University, offered punctual help with primary research in the fall of 2012.

In the summer of 2013, POP expanded to include a digital edition of George W. M. Reynolds's translation "The Mysteries of the Inquisition". It is the result of two years of primary research in France and Spain as well as collaboration with popular fiction enthusiasts Georges Dodds for the OCRed base text and Justin Gilbert for the illustrations.

The following year, a dynamic side-by-side comparison not only between Reynolds's translation and the French novel, but also between the latter and the concurrent translation issued by George Peirce was added. This novel visualization is the fruit of conceptualization and programming by Daniel Carter and my TEI encoding and sentence-by-sentence comparison of the texts.


Rebecca Nesvet and Rae Yan are working on new electronic editions of works by James Malcolm Rymer: The Sepoys as well as the seminal String of Pearls.

The POP database has not yet taken advantage of all previously published bibliographies. Here are the three bibliographies left of which I would like to add the contents (limited to 1835-1860 penny serial fiction):

Contributors are sought to access periodicals which are still in need of indexing.

Please note that POP will not extend beyond 1860, when penny dreadfuls replaced penny bloods.


I would like to thank the following individuals for their help and support in building the database: the two NINES anonymous reviewers, Justin Gilbert, Elizabeth James, Helen R. Smith, John Adcock, Peter Ross, James Doig, Troy J. Bassett, Chris Martin, Eric Peters, Benoit Leseul, and Patrick Leary. John Adcock regularly updates his Penny Bibliography on his blog Yesterday's Papers.

I could not have done the edition without Georges Dodds's OCRed text nor Didier Ozanam's kind guidance in researching the elusive Manuel Galo de Cuendías in the Archives nationales de France. His help also allowed me to find Victorine Germillan's files, leading to the fresh discoveries regarding the co-authors' covert love life.

I must also thank Mark Bennett, Elizabeth Stearns, Justin Gilbert, and Daniel Carter for their help in producing the edition. Daniel's collaboration especially kept me going in the summer of 2013.

A special thank you to Jennifer Pollard, Rob Macfarlane, and Helen Cooper who generously accepted to temporarily host POP on the Faculty of English website at the University of Cambridge. The current hosting is made possible by my web developer of an ex, Quentin Auvray.


If you would like to contribute corrections, data entry, publisher biographies, author biographies, title summaries, or serialization information, please contact Marie Léger-St-Jean.

Thank you to James Doig and Robin Hamilton for their contributions as well as Elizabeth Stearns and Sarah Lill for their collaboration.

How to Cite

Léger-St-Jean, Marie. Price One Penny: A Database of Cheap Literature, 1837-1860, Last updated 29 December 2021. Accessed 22 May 2024.


For the 10th anniversary of Price One Penny, Marie Léger-St-Jean received the 2020 Field Development Grant awarded by the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals.

The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals

Marie Léger-St-Jean's doctoral studies were funded by:

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada / Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada Cambridge Commonwealth Trust

Technical Notes

This website was written on a Macintosh using a MySQL database and PHP. It complies with XHTML and CSS specifications. The edition follows TEI standards.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict CSS Valide !