Monday, September 20, 2010

19th Century Pulp Fiction

Emory University has launched a huge online library of books known as Yellowback Novels, which were marketed mostly at railway travelers in Great Britain in the late 19th century. The books were digitized with a new scanner system, so even the ads for unusual products of the era are included in many of the books.

Emory has placed 1,200 of these novels as PDF files online:

Yellowbacks were cheap, 19th century British literature sold at railway book stalls, with colorful, sensational covers to attract buyers. While some were well-known books such as “Sense and Sensibility,” many of the yellowbacks were obscure titles by authors unknown nowadays. “They were the equivalent of a popular novel you’d read on a plane today,” says David Faulds, MARBL’s rare book librarian.

"The genres and topics include romance, detective fiction, war, biography, medicine, horse racing, hunting and fishing. “Some of these books are so rare that they’ve been lost to history,” Faulds says. “Scholars and casual readers can now discover these works. There may be aspects of them that are of interest not only to literary researchers but also social historians looking at Britain or America in the 19th century or women’s lives in this period – what they were reading, how they are portrayed or what they wrote.”

You’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader. To access the yellowbacks:

1. Click here for a preloaded search of "Emory digital library" yellowbacks, or search for a yellowback title or author of your choice.

2. Click on the selection you wish to read, or click on the green "online access" link next to the entry. (Or scroll down under details, and at the second blue arrow, right-click on "PDF version," then click on "open in new window.")

3. The yellowback will load; note the first page is usually blank. You can then save the novel to your desktop or a flash drive and read it at your leisure."

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