At a Glance


Cover art and full texts from dime novels preserve the popular culture of an industrializing U.S.

Stanford University

Dime Novels and Penny Dreadfuls

Image for Dime Novels and Penny Dreadfuls

More than 2,300 covers of American "dime novels," and their British counterparts, the "penny dreadfuls," are available on this website. In addition, the full text of nine books and a series entitled Secret Service (1899–1912) are available.

The site offers "guided tours" with images and essays of approximately 1,500 words on print processes and dime novel covers. The full-text selections include stories featuring such heroes as Nick Carter, Buffalo Bill, Jesse James, Deadwood Dick, Fred Fearnot, and Calamity Jane. A full-text search is available only for those affiliated with Stanford University.

The site provides basic information on each title and indexes books according to subject, genre, setting, intended audience age and gender, and type of graphic material. Subject indexing of cover iconography is especially valuable. Listings are organized according to depictions of ethnicity/nationality, occupation, types of places, types of sports and recreations, types of violence, and types of gestures and actions classified according to gender of character portrayed.