Originally Published in 1886
Author: John R. Coryell
Curator: Cristiana Wilcoxon
Artist: James F. Lorigan
Move over, Britain, because America has a James Bond, and he was here first. (Not to mention, he’s just as much of a lady killer!) If you’re familiar with the Nick Carter-Killmaster series, then you might not be surprised to find its origins date back to the 1886 work of fiction in your hands. The same hard-faced, steely-eyed spy (code name: “N3”) who appeared in approximately 261 spy novels published between 1964 and 1990 got his start as a fictional detective back in the ‘1800s, continuing on as a pulp magazine star in the early 20th century. Numerous films based upon Nick Carter’s adventures were produced in the U.S., France, and Czechoslovakia, as early as 1908 and as late as 1977, and during the ‘40s and ‘50s Nick Carter entertained the public as the main character of several popular radio shows. For a while, Nick Carter was even the title character of an Italian comic strip. So put on your best sleuthing hat, and solve the mystery for yourself of how Nick Carter became one of America’s most beloved private eyes.
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.