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We've been a-gathering this for years,
A little at a time.
Will Carleton, Betsy and I Are Out

House of Beadle & Adams Online -- Preface

IN THE AUTUMN OF 1933, the author rashly conceived the idea of writing a bibliography of the publications of Beadle and Adams. He had been collecting the original yellow-backs for some time, but soon found † that it was necessary to see most of the publications of this firm if he was to do a creditable piece of work. Information obtained by correspondence with other collectors often lacked much in accuracy and completeness, for that which seemed complete to them was seldom complete from the standpoint of a bibliographer. Lists of publications given in the advertising pages of other novels were, in many cases, far from perfect. However, the compilation of data was begun with these aids and, as the author's own collection grew, corrections were made. Errors will doubtless be found; the author depends upon his readers to report them.

Seeing what a Gargantuan task lay ahead, the author should have known better than to continue, for he had just completed a treatise which from small beginnings had grown to four volumes. But he was optimistic and plodded on, adding bit by bit to the information already in hand; revising and re-revising as he obtained new novels for his collection; writing innumerable letters to various collectors and libraries in an attempt to obtain needed information about the novels; going through files of daily newspapers, volume after volume from 1840 on, looking for Beadle advertisements to obtain dates of publication of thousands of novels and for news items about the Beadle firm and its founders; spending weeks throughout the country in various libraries that had collections of Beadle material or files of newspapers that promised enlightenment on the activities of the members of the firm or of their authors; visiting cemeteries to obtain data from tombstones; corresponding with librarians and newspapermen in various cities and towns; writing to descendants of various Beadle authors for data-unfortunately not always productively-and, in general, making himself a nuisance, hoping eventually to be able to answer all questions that might be asked about the House of Beadle and Adams. Alas! He began the task some forty years too late, for the men who possessed the needed information have all passed to the Great Beyond with which the author's lines of communication do not connect. In this respect he is not as fortunate as were Daniel D. Home, Sir Oliver Lodge, and Conan Doyle.

As the book progressed, it outgrew the original plan of a simple bibliography. Undoubtedly objections will be made to the manner in which the material is arranged. The "Dime Novels" are in a class by themselves and the usual form of bibliography could not be followed. These paper-covered novelettes were reprinted so many times, with changed titles, changed names of authors, and condensations, that special treatment was needed to show their relationships. Very little effort was made to criticize either authors or novels, for attempts to evaluate them all would have swelled the book to the size of Paul Bunyan's ox, and would have served no useful purpose after so many years. After all, this book is by a collector for other collectors in the form which would have been most useful to him when he began his own collection.

Everyone interested in the early form of cheap literature inaugurated by Beadle, will, of course, be equally interested in the firm itself. A "History of the Firm," therefore, was necessary as an introduction. The book was growing and had expanded into a volume, not only for collectors as a check list, but for librarians, bookdealers, and the general reader. For the latter, excerpts from the more popular writers are given to show the type of reading matter that was so popular between fifty and ninety years ago. May these excerpts also bring back happy memories to all the old boys who are still nostalgic for the books of their youth!

The dime novels were printed and reprinted time and time again. In order to list the various editions in proper sequence, it was necessary to know when each novel appeared. Prior to April 1, 1879, they were not dated and the intervals between issues were not always regular; consequently a search for the announced dates of new novels had to be made in the newspapers of the day and in advertisements in other novels. This took much time. Often there were periods when the firm advertised but little. Nowhere was there a complete file of all the Beadle publications, and the search for data required much correspondence. But checking reprints was not as simple as it sounds. In some cases the same titles were used for different stories. For example, Dime Library No. 993, "The Telegraph Detective," by Joseph E. Badger, Jr., has the same title and the same illustration on the first page as the previously issued No. 366, by George Henry Morse. If one depended only on titles, one might assume that Badger and Morse were true and pen names of the same man; for pen names were often substituted in reprints. As a matter of fact, the two stories are entirely different, and there is no connection between them. The repetition of title probably was for the purpose of making use of the cut a second time.

Further difficulty resulted from the fact that most novels have a title and a subtitle, and these, in reprints, were often reversed; or perhaps a new title or subtitle was used. In such cases an index of titles, now given in the back of this book, was of value. In many cases, however, the titles were completely changed. Who would, in "The Man of Many Names; or, Tracing the London Fugitives," recognize "The Red Scorpion; or. The Beautiful Phantom?" Here the duplication was found by comparing the first lines of each story. Obviously it was impossible to carry all the stories in one's head, even if all were read; consequently two indexes were made, containing the first lines of all but a half dozen or so of novels which were unobtainable. In one index the first lines were arranged in the sequence of the numbers of the series; in the other, the lines were arranged in alphabetical order. These lists, which required months of work and which form over 300 single-spaced typewritten pages, are not published here, but are only mentioned to give the reader an idea of some of the invisible work that was necessary in the making of this book.

But first lines did not always help. In some cases a novel was condensed when reprinted, and perhaps the first lines were changed. Thus No. 32, Twenty Cent Novels, begins: "Northward goes the trail from Laramie's Fort," while the same story in the Saturday Journal, No. 362, begins with a quotation from act III, scene 2, of "Macbeth": "The crow makes wing to the rooky wood." But caution was necessary, for in some cases first lines of different novels are only slightly different. Thus the line first quoted, which is from one of Albert Aiken's novels, is from a different story than another of his which begins: "Northward straight as the crow flies, goes the trail . . ." Casually inspected, these two lines might be taken for the beginnings of two slightly different versions of the same story.

When title and first line were both changed, a comparison of synopses of different novels by the same author was in some cases the first step in identifying reprints. The synopses having been written, it was thought that they might be of service to collectors of novels of a particular type or locality, consequently they are given, in brief, under each novel on its first appearance; that is, under the novel indicated by the first of the symbols after the titles in the following lists.

Finally, it occasionally happens that reprints of novels have a different "by-line" from that given in the original. In those cases where the title and subtitle, first line, and author's name were all changed, as for example in the reprints of Gerstacker's novels under the name of Francis Johnson, only the recollection of having read the story elsewhere helped in listing reprints-provided the series in which it had previously appeared was remembered. It is possible that a few reprints under these conditions escaped notice. The author will be very thankful to have such omissions called to his attention.

So far as I am aware, the only omissions from the numerical lists are the names of the authors of Irwin P. Beadle's American Novels Nos. 17, 35, 37 and 38, † Irwin P. Beadle's Sixpenny Tales No. I, the author and title of Irwin P. Beadle's Sixpenny, and the titles in Volumes II and III of the American Library Tales and in Volume IV of the Standard Library of Romance. These numbers, of course, are also missing under the authors' names and among the symbols after the titles of reprints.

In Part IV the works of each author have been brought together in answer to a demand by collectors for lists of the novels of specific writers. Here, for the sake of saving space, only the serial number of each novel is given, reprints being indicated by italics. The complete title may be found in the numerical lists.

Naturally the interest of a collector in an author requires a biography. I have done my best to make a Beadle Novel "Who's Who," because in the days of the dime novelists there were no biographical dictionaries of these usually minor writers. This was the most difficult task of the book, and it was necessary to look through many newspapers, magazines, directories, genealogies, and what not, for possible traces of these authors, now long since passed away. The journals and newspapers of the 1860's and 1870's brought very little information in spite of the fact that the Beadle authors were mostly regular contributors who wrote for years. In some cases descendants were found who have helped with biographies of their forbears. Pseudonyms were a great stumbling block, and it has not been possible to trace all of the numerous names used by the publishers to increase their apparent staff of writers. In fact it has not always been possible to determine whether a name is real or false. Such names have been left without biographies or cross references in Part IV, and their true or false nature is at present to be regarded as undetermined. The author hopes that some of the readers of this book may be able to supply missing biographical data for use in case a supplement is ever issued.

It would have been impossible to have made this book as complete as it is without the help of my many friends and correspondents. First and foremost, thanks are due to my dear friend Ralph Adimari for many letters containing the results of hours of painstaking research. His extensive knowledge of dime novels has helped enormously in clearing up many doubtful points.

Special thanks are due, also, to John T. McIntyre, writer of novels of adventure, of old Philadelphia, and of the sea, for the "Foreword" to this book, for lending me various novels and periodicals, for searching for information on Pennsylvania authors, and for other aid; to Raymond L. Caldwell for much helpful information contained in many letters written through a period of years, and for permission to make use of his large collection of story papers of the long ago; to the late Charles Jonas for friendly criticism through many years of close friendship; to the late V. Valta Parma, Curator of the Rare Book Collection of the Library of Congress, for much aid and many suggestions during the weeks I spent in Washington, working over the Beadle collection in that library, and for many letters of supplementary information; to John P. Earner, also of the Library of Congress, for his kindness in attending to my wants at the library during my visits to Washington; and to Robert J. Usher, librarian of the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University, for the opportunity of seeing certain Beadle items in that library, which, while not numerous, were of importance in clearing up a pre-Civil War Beadle outlet in the South, and for his attempts at solving the mystery of Philip S. Warne.

For biographies and in many cases for photographs of their relatives, I am indebted to Mrs. W. H. Thomas, daughter of Joseph E. Badger, Jr.; Robert Cameron Beadle, grandson of Irwin P. Beadle; James G. Beall, distant relative of Asa Beall; Alfred M. Bowen, Jr., grandson of James N. Bowen; Gordon Hays Brown, son of William Perry Brown; Arthur K. Coomes and R. G. Coomes, son and grandson of Oll Coomes; Mrs. Edith Hart, niece of Francis Cory; Mrs. Lloyd Dorsey, daughter of Mrs. Mary Reed Crowell; Evans E. Ewing, son of Edwin Evans Ewing; Mrs. Linnaeus C. Solt, daughter, and Charles Victor Eyster, son of William R. Eyster; Mrs. George W. Smith, daughter of Lewis J. Gardner; Mrs. J. W. Bayer and her daughter Mrs. C. A. Kleinknecht, the former a niece of Joseph F. Henderson; Mrs. Elmer Hoffman, sister-in-law of J. Milton Hoffman; Mrs. W. R. Latimer, granddaughter, and Arthur E. Hungerford, grandson of James E. Hungerford; Walter Iliff and H. Engle, son and nephew of J. Edgar Iliff; Miss Esther Karst, daughter of John Karst; Percy E. Clapp, distant relative † of Dr. H. Milnor Klapp; Karl G. Merrill and Ralph Mellon, nephews, and Mrs. Vernon Houlding, niece, of J. M. Merrill; Mrs. A. H. Binyon, niece of A. P. Morris; Leon Lewis, Jr., son of Leon Lewis; Albert W. Rolfe, son of Maro O. Rolfe; Mrs. Russell V. Adams, daughter of Edward Stratemeyer; Mrs. C. A. Urner, sister-in-law of Nathan Dane Urner; Miss Florence Victor, daughter, and Orville Winthrop Victor, grandson of Orville J. Victor; and Clark W. Stryker, grandnephew of Edward L. Wheeler's mother. To Mrs. George Waldo Browne I am indebted for letters and newspaper clippings about her husband as well as for photographs of a number of other dime novelists; to Mrs. William H. Manning for data about her husband, and to Mrs. Langley Ingraham for a portrait of the Rev. Joseph Holt Ingraham.

I am indebted to Dr. and Mrs. Frank P. O'Brien for co-operation in many ways, for permission to copy photographs and letters in the O'Brien Beadle collection, and for synopses of the stories in the original yellow-backs. The late Gilbert Patten (William G. to his old readers of the Half-Dimes) in numerous letters gave me information about his fellow novelists. Mrs. Jane Joy assisted in looking up records in Cooperstown, and Miss Mary Meek Atkeson, Johnson Briscoe, and Edward Morrill aided in various ways. For information about authors who once were students at various schools, I am indebted to the Registrar of Gettysburg (Pennsylvania) College, to Miss Gladys A. Kimball, Recorder of Amherst College, and to E. C. Miller, Registrar of Rush Medical College. Biographical data were also obtained from C. W. Farrar, of the Historical Society of Cheshire County, New Hampshire; Joseph Gavit, Associate Librarian, New York State Library; Edward F. Alexander, Director of the New York State Historical Association; George A. Root, of the Kansas State Historical Society; and Mrs. Hattie E. Brown, Registrar of the Framingham, Massachusetts, Chapter of the D.A.R. For data on Beadle's actor-authors I am indebted to William Van Lennep, Curator of the Harvard College Library Theatre Collection; G. C. D. Odell, Professor Emeritus of Dramatic Literature, Columbia University; George Freedley, Dramatic Department of the New York Public Library; Miss Mary Davenport Seymour, Museum of the City of New York; and Mrs. H. McAneny, Custodian Theatre Collection, Princeton University.

H. W. Ralston, Vice President of the Street and Smith Publications has assisted with data about some of the authors who in the early days wrote for Street and Smith as well as for Beadle and Adams. Cornelius P. Turner, Superintendent of Schools, Leicester, Massachusetts, and R. D. Fritter, postmaster at Garrisonville, Virginia, furnished biographical data, as did also R. D. Locke of Titusville, Pennsylvania, † P. J. Moran, of Concord, California and John M. Merriam and Chester A. S. Fazakas of Boston.

I have called upon librarians from New York to California for information, and have found them ever willing to assist. Among others, I have to thank Paul North Rice, Chief of the Reference Department of the New York Public Library; Leslie E. Bliss, Librarian of the Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California; Milton C. Russell, Head of the Reference Section of the Virginia State Library; Miss Winifred Ver Nooy, Reference Librarian, University of Chicago; Miss Ann S. Pratt, Reference Librarian, Yale University; and Miss Charlotte Moughton, Librarian, Winter Park, Florida.

Editors and newspaper men in general have been especially helpful, and I feel very grateful for assistance which they have given me. I cannot list all of them, but wish in particular to thank Rudolph W. Chamberlain of the Citizen-Advertiser, Auburn, New York; L. M. Feeger of the Palladium-Item, Richmond, Indiana; F. A. Fredrich, Paterson Morning Call; John M. Gill, Oswego Palladium-Times; Mannel Hahn, The Rotarian; C. M. Harger, Abilene Daily Reflector; J. J. Hartman, Frankfort (Kansas) Index; E. H. Hoffman, La Crosse (Wisconsin) Tribune; Vincent S. Jones, Utica Observer-Dispatch; the late Charles Aronstein (James Madison), Collector's Guide and Rare Book Speculator; Franklin J. Meine, Consolidated Book Publishers; Frederic G. Melcher, Publishers' Weekly; Don Russell, The Chicago Tribune; Boyd B. Stutler, American Legion Magazine; O. K. Swayze, Topeka Press Club; W. B. Tunstall, Leicester (Massachusetts) Banner; J. H. Thompson, The Torrington (Connecticut) Register; H. V. Seabrook, Grant (Michigan) Herald; E. T. Stevenson, The Titusville (Pennsylvania) Herald; H. C. Shaw, New Hampshire Sentinel, Keene, N. H.; and Elmo Scott Watson, The Publishers' Auxiliary.

Permission to use copyrighted material has been courteously granted by The Atlantic Monthly, Doubleday and Company, Harper and Brothers, The New York Sun, The Publishers' Weekly, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Saturday Evening Post.

To my fellow members of this hobby's "Brotherhood," all dyed-in-the-wool collectors, who have helped me in various ways, I am grateful, and hope that they will forgive my failure if in this book I have not come up to their expectations. Especially helpful, besides those members already mentioned, were Ralph F. Cummings, the enthusiastic editor of the Dime Novel Round-Up; Fred T. Singleton, editor, publisher, and printer of the lively Nineteenth Century Peep-Show; the late Charles H. Austin, through whose hands many a dime novel passed; Charles Bragin, the originator of a Dime Novel Club for the distribution of reprints of these paper-backed thrillers; George French, collector and maker of many "novelphotes"; the late E. T. Gossett, whose choice ran to the milder tales of the Golden Library and Golden Days; George H. Hess, Jr., the owner of some 30,000 dime novels; Willis T. Hurd, the Washington Jules Verne fan; the late W. C. Miller, a pioneer in attempting to list the pseudonyms of the dime novelists; Hermon Pitcher, authority on Mrs. Trask and Mrs. Brame; and Ralph P. Smith, one of the earliest of the dime novel collectors. There were many other correspondents, too numerous to mention, who have supplied bits of useful information. To all who have in any way helped in this effort to bring together existing data on the Beadle firm and its activities, I give my heartfelt thanks.

Finally, yet not least although last mentioned, I have to thank Savoie Lottinville and Will Ransom of the University of Oklahoma Press for their careful supervision of this difficult manuscript through the press.

When the original novels here described have been disintegrated by time, it may be that the better paper used in the present volumes will preserve at least suggestions of what they once were. May these books come, then, as George Ade said in the Preface to his "Bang! Bang!" as a happy reminder of the days when all of us were ruined by reading books which could not be obtained at the Public Library.

Winter Park, Florida

† Correction made as per Volume 3.

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