The ‘Penny Dreadful’ was a publishing phenomenon in the 19thCentury as these cheap, sensational, highly illustrated stories became incredibly popular with the Victorian public. Increasing literacy and improving technology saw a boom in cheap fiction for the working classes. ‘Penny Blood’ was the original name for the booklets that in the 1860’s was renamed, Penny Dreadful.
The original stories told daring tales of adventure, initially with pirates and highwaymen, later concentrating on crime and detection. The ‘Penny Dreadful’ was issued weekly with each ‘number’ or episode being eight (occasionally 16) pages long, with black and white illustration on the top half of each page.
The ’bloods’ were incredibly successful creating a vast new readership. Between 1830 and 1850 there were up to 100 publishers of penny fiction as well as many magazines that embraced the genre. At first the ‘bloods’ copied popular cheap fictions love of late 18thCentury gothic tales – the more sensational the better – a world of murderous lords, ladies addicted to the study of poison, gipsies and brigand chiefs….men with masks and women with daggers, stolen children, withered hags, heartless gamblers and foreign princesses….
The first ever Penny Dreadful was issued in 1836 titled the ‘Lives of the Most Notorious Highwayman’. ‘Gentleman Jack’ was published for over four years without too much worry for accuracy or continuity (one character was killed …twice)
Japanese Knotweed Solutions have launched their own series of Penny Dreadful, in an effort to raise the profile of INNS (Invasive Non Native Species) and to bring a little culture into the lives of the readership. Currently available is Issue 1 ‘Japanese Knotweed – The Feast of Blood’ and Issue 2 ‘Giant Hogweed – The Giant Cometh’
Please note, the tales are scary and are not meant to be read by children, the faint hearted, home owners or anybody living close to a railway line or river….
To receive your free copy of the Penny Dreadfuls in the post, please click here and confirm that you are over 18 … (UK only)