The American Women’s Dime Novel Project

Dime novels were the predecessors of the pulps, bringing cheap fiction to a mass audience of all age groups. They published stories in many genres – western, crime/detective, sports, horror, science fiction and romance being some.

Assorted dime novels (image courtesy Skinner Auctions)
Assorted dime novels (image courtesy Skinner Auctions)

I read a few, and it may have been my luck, but I didn’t find them gripping. I never paid much attention to any critical reviews of them after that, but this website has gone some distance in changing my mind about them.
An introduction to the website itself:

This web site grew out my research for my dissertation entitled “All For Love: Gender and Class and the Woman’s Dime Novel in Nineteenth-Century America” which examines the genre of women’s dime novel writing and its role in changing gender and class formations. While other forms of nineteenth-century women’s writing have been the focus of extensive scholarship and have developed a strong presence on the web, it became clear to me that dime novels have not received the attention they deserve. This genre, once enormously popular with its readers, has been neglected for most of its history by scholars, collectors, and libraries. It suffers from the double burden of being both popular and written for working-class women. This project hopes to overcome the history of oversight to both the form and its readers by providing information about the novels themselves, the authors, the readers, and nineteenth century public reaction.

It has a great essay on the American women’s dime novel, links to e-books of dime novels available for free, articles about a few authors and publishers (including Street and Smith).

American Women's Dime Novel Project
American Women’s Dime Novel Project

I might go back and purchase this book (disable adblocker to see the picture below):


  1. I used to have a small collection of dime novels but I finally had to practically give them away because I found them to be almost unreadable and very dated. The literary quality was so poor that they read like summaries or outlines of plots with very little characterization and style.

    On the other hand, I've always been very interested in the history of dime novels. I have most of the reference books including Randy Cox's book on the dime novel and the big 3 volume history of Beadle and Adams. I've also been a subscriber to the DIME NOVEL ROUND UP since the 1970's and I have all the hundreds of back issues going back to the 1930's when Reckless Ralph Cummings was editor.

    One funny thing about THE ROUND UP. When I first joined almost 50 years ago I was assigned a subscriber number of number 300 and something. So was Digges La Touche who joined around the same time. This is a number that you keep and as the years marched on and subscribers died or lost interest, then your number advances and gets lower and lower.

    Well now Digges in number 7 and I'm number 13. How did he get so much lower than me. I demand an investigation into this miscarriage of justice!

  2. I have quite a few books about dime novels. Here are some of interest:

    THE DIME NOVEL COMPANION by J. Randolph Cox–One of the very best books.

    THE DIME NOVEL ROUNDUP–Been published since the early 1930's and is still of interest. Over 750 issues.

    DIME NOVEL ROUNDUP: An Annotated Index, 1931-1981.

    THE HOUSE OF BEADLE AND ADAMS: And It's Dime and Nickle Novels, The Story of a Vanished Literature. 3 Volumes. by Albert Johannsen.

    EIGHT DIME NOVELS edited by E.F. Bleiler(Dover)

    THE DIME NOVEL DETECTIVE edited by Gary Hoppenstand(Bowling Green)

    OLD SLEUTH'S FREAKY FEMALE DETECTIVES: From the Dime Novels edited by Garyn G. Roberts, Gary Hoppenstand and Ray B. Browne(Bowling Green).

    DIME NOVELS by Edmund Pearson(Little Brown 1929).

    VILLAINS GALORE by Mary Noel

    THE DIME NOVEL WESTERN by Daryl Jones(Bowling Green)

    The above is not a complete listing and just what I noticed on my shelves.

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