Originally Published in 1860
Author: Ann S. Stephens
Curator: Cristiana Wilcoxon
Artist: James F. Lorigan
Set in the early 1800s, deep in the Catskills Mountains of New York, Malaeska, the daughter of Chief Black Eagle, finds herself the victim of unspeakable tragedy. Unable to stay with her tribe, she ventures on a quest down the Hudson River to Manhattan to find a new home for herself and her young son. Upon reaching the city, however, racism, intolerance, and prejudice threaten to destroy her family. A tale of survival and the fortitude of the human spirit, the story follows the young heroine as she tries to adapt to a life outside her tribe against extreme adversity. Originally published in 1860, Malaeska is the first American dime novel ever published, coining the phrase “dime novel.”
Before comics, pulp magazines, and television shows, 19th-century working-class America relied on dime novels to break the monotony of daily life. Spurred by accelerated printing processes, efficient rail shipping, and growing literacy rates, dime novels catering to fans of urban outlaws, detectives, working-girl heroines and romantic heroes were sold at newsstands and dry goods stores across the country.
Proceeds from our classic dime novels support 1888 education and literacy programs designed to engage readers, support writers, and inspire a cultural legacy for future generations.