Title page for dime novels exhibit

“For a dime novel you require only three things—a riotous imagination, a dramatic instinct, and a right hand that never tires.” —Eugene Sawyer, 1902.

Quoted by Gelett Burgess in "The Confessions of a Dime-Novelist," The Bookman: an Illustrated Magazine of Literature and Life. Vol. 15, August 1902. pp. 528-533.

Dime novels, nickel novels, story-papers, pamphlet novels, novelettes, red-backs, yellow-backs, yellow-covered literature, paper-covered literature, railroad literature, broadsheets, libraries of adventure, cheap libraries, working-girl stories, adventure stories, domestic romances, Western tales, pulps, trash…

Whatever their name, these cheap melodramas captivated, and even defined, Americans for decades in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Navigating through the exhibit

Explore this online exhibit by using the menu on the right side of the screen, or visit the pages in order with the links at the bottom of each page.

Click on each image to access a page with an item record about the cover, a link to a larger version of the image and, if the story has been digitized and is available online, a link to where you can access it. Use the back button on your browser to return to the exhibit page from the image's item record.