A Database of Cheap Literature, 1837-1860

By Marie Léger-St-Jean
General Editor

"unlock the material for other research purposes"
— William St Clair, The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period

Price One Penny: A Database of Cheap Literature, 1837-1860 (POP) aims to catalogue early Victorian penny fiction and thereby enable easy access to surviving copies and accurate bibliographic information. It is peer-reviewed and aggregated into NINES.

Victorianist scholars and collectors alike should find it very helpful. It will also prove of use to those researching transmission of French and American popular culture. You may search by title or browse by work, author, publisher, periodical, or library.


POP's records are linked to many other resources, online or in print:


Currently, the database contains 584 editions by 66 publishers of 521 different works written by 74 identified penny authors. It also contains 372 serials from 25 periodicals. [More statistics.]

In a major update in December 2012 were added copies from British libraries found by Elizabeth Stearns through COPAC, all penny bloods in Oxford's Pettingell collection as well as the entirety of George W. M. Reynolds's œuvre published in penny weekly numbers.

POP contains all penny-issue books published until 1860 indexed in:

  • Bleiler, Everett Franklin. "Bibliography." George W. M. Reynolds. Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf. New York: Dover Publications, 1975.
  • James, Elizabeth and Helen R. Smith. Penny dreadfuls and boys' adventures : the Barry Ono Collection of Victorian popular literature in the British Library. London: British Library, 1998.
  • James, Louis. Fiction for the working man, 1830-1850; a study of the literature produced for the working classes in early Victorian urban England. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1963.
  • James, Louis. "A Bibliography of Works by G.W.M. Reynolds." G.W.M. Reynolds: Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Politics, and the Press. Ed. Anne Humpherys & Louis James. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008. 273-278.
  • Medcraft, John. Bibliography of the penny bloods of Edward Lloyd. Dundee: privately printed (by J.A. Birkbeck.), 1945.

It is missing 31 indexed serials from the London Journal. Work on the database is ongoing: read more about planned developments...