Victorian Popular Fictions 4.2 1 Nesvet and Basdeo

Reappraising Penny Fiction

Stephen Basdeo and 

Rebecca Nesvet 

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This Introduction to the Special Volume of Victorian Popular Fictions Journal titled “Reappraising Penny Fiction” defines penny fiction, surveys its prehistory, and reconstructs its emergence in the nineteenth-century British media and globally. The article then engages with the ongoing scholarly debate about “penny dreadfuls” and theorises how misconceptions about the genre developed and were circulated by critics and scholars. Finally, the article introduces the central questions and themes of the special issue, as well as the individual articles. Victorian penny fiction has long been considered disturbing yet compelling; we hope that our volume reveals why that is so.


penny fiction; penny bloods; penny dreadfuls; G.W.M. Reynolds; Eugene Sue; James Malcolm Rymer; Pierce Egan; periodicals; serialisation dime novels; world literature


Date of Acceptance: 31 December 2022

Date of Publication: 13 January 2023

Double Blind Peer Reviewed

Recommended Citation:

Basdeo, Stephen and Rebecca Nesvet. 2022. “Reappraising Penny Fiction: Introduction.” Victorian Popular Fictions, 4.2: 1-17. ISSN: 2632-4253 (online) DOI:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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