Arago: Exhibits

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Adventure at an Affordable Price

By the last decades of the 1800s, Dime Novels had become popular reading material for young and old. Affordable and widely available, they inspired readers with colorful tales of daring-do and adventure.

The American frontier was rich fodder for Dime Novel authors, and few western stories carried the speed and thrills of the Pony Express. One of the most prolific publishers of these tales was Erastus Beadle (who often published with his partner Robert Adams). The Beadle’s Dime Novels first appeared in 1860 and continued through the end of the century, with over 600 novels published.

Dime Novels (so named for their typical cost) and yellow, or cheap paper-covered booklets (from which the term “pulp fiction” originates) were widely sold adventure stories that often mined the tales of the great American Western frontier for their stories.

Beadle's 'Dime Novel'

Author Frederick Whittaker wrote this tale, “Dick Darling, the Pony Expressman” in the summer of 1874. The story was published as a stand alone Dime Novel as well as in the Saturday Journal, another Beadles & Adams publication.

Beadle's 'Dime Novel'

Prentiss Ingraham was one of dozens of authors who penned colorful tales for Beadles & Adams. Unlike some of these often over the top, colorful authors, Ingraham actually spent some time in the West, including time with William “Buffalo Bill” Cody.