Originally Published in 1860
Author: Edward S. Ellis
Curator: Cristiana Wilcoxon
Artist: James F. Lorigan
Abraham Lincoln is said to have declared Seth Jones one of his favorite novels of all time. It’s not hard to imagine good ol’ Abe sitting by the fire, reading aloud this tale of an adventurous and moral backwoodsman to his son. Originally published in 1860 by Beadle’s Dime Novels, immediately following the success of the first the dime novel Malaeska, Seth Jones quickly became the most famous of the early dime novels, assisting in making a name for the prolific Edward S. Ellis. He would then go on to write the first U.S. science fiction dime novel, The Steam Man of the Prairies. While you enjoy this novel, we suggest pretending our 16th president is doing a silly voice for each character—it really adds to the experience.
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.