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: Cheap Literature, 1837-1860 (POP). It contains a database which catalogues early Victorian penny fiction and thereby enables easy access to surviving copies and accurate bibliographic information. It is peer-reviewed and aggregated into NINES. It also includes an electronic edition of "The Mysteries of the Inquisition", translations of a French novel by a fascinating couple of author-lovers published in the London Journal on the one hand and by George Peirce on the other.

Victorianist scholars and collectors alike should find the database 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.

The edition, designed both for readers of historical fiction and for academics, is a testament to the creativity of George W. M. Reynolds not only as author of The Mysteries of London, but also as translator. Publishing historians will be interested in the competition between his translation and that put out by George Peirce.

All three texts (the French as well as the two translations) are presented side-by-side, with possibility to align all three on any segment of text. There is also a static version for those who simply wish to read the novel in Reynolds's translation.

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...