Penny Dreadfuls Emily gage 2nd period

Penny Dreadfuls (also known as penny horrible, penny awful, and penny blood) are cheap literature stories made in the nineteenth century in the United Kingdom. The term was created due to the fact that these short stories were priced at only one penny. Penny Dreadfuls in the Victorian era had positive effects like introducing a new kind of genre for writers and readers, and negative effects because of the negative influences they had on the readers.

“The first ever penny-blood, in 1836, was Lives of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Footpads, &c.”(“Penny Dreadfuls”) The first Penny Dreadful had instant success. It also made the first advance towards cheap printing- a very positive change. “Several authors who later published more respectable popular fiction began their careers in penny-bloods,” (“Penny Dreadfuls”) including G. A. Sala and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, the author of Lady Audley’s Secret, who began as the author of The Black Band. These authors were influenced greatly by their creations of Penny Dreadfuls. Penny Dreadfuls kick-started their career and inspired them to go on to write more books. Like the authors, Penny Dreadfuls also helped newspapers become more popular and improved the quality of printing. Improvements in printing resulted in newspapers like The Spectator and The Tatler to gain more success. Penny Dreadfuls were also known for their low price. “At a penny apiece, they cost as little as a twelfth of the price of an instalment of a Charles Dickens novel.” (“BBC - Culture - The Shocking Tale of the Penny Dreadful”) The Penny Dreadfuls owe a lot of their success to the fact they were priced at only a penny.

While there were many positive impacts of the Penny Dreadfuls, there were also a few negative aspects. The Penny Dreadful's success was starting to be challenged in the 1980's by author Alfred Harmsworth. Harmsworth wrote his stories because of the disagreements he had with the effects the Penny Dreadfuls had on the public. He said that the Penny Dreadfuls contents caused their readers to “rob their employers, bought revolvers with the proceeds, and finished by running away from home, and installing themselves in the back streets as 'highwaymen'.” (Imperialism and juvenile literature) He made it clear that recent crimes in this time were a direct result of the suggestive topics of the Penny Dreadfuls. His belief that the Penny Dreadfuls were causing people to commit crimes and go against their better judgement is what caused him to write and gain success of his own with his stories titled "The Half-penny Marvel." With his persuasive opinion and creation of the “Half Penny Marvel”, the popularity of the Penny Dreadfuls was finally coming to an end.

In conclusion, the Penny Dreadfuls helped many authors (and even normal working class citizens by saving them money), and also had some negative impacts (like encouraging crimes in this era). But while the latter was not such a positive impact on that society, overall Penny Dreadfuls entertained people of different ages and occupations in the Victorian Era.

Work Cited:;_ylu=X3oDMTBtdXBkbHJyBHNlYwNmcC1hdHRyaWIEc2xrA3J1cmw-/RV=2/RE=1486685760/RO=11/;_ylu=X3oDMTBtdXBkbHJyBHNlYwNmcC1hdHRyaWIEc2xrA3J1cmw-/RV=2/RE=1486685871/RO=11/;_ylu=X3oDMTBtdXBkbHJyBHNlYwNmcC1hdHRyaWIEc2xrA3J1cmw-/RV=2/RE=1486685892/RO=11/;_ylu=X3oDMTBtdXBkbHJyBHNlYwNmcC1hdHRyaWIEc2xrA3J1cmw-/RV=2/RE=1486685920/RO=11/

“Barry Ono Collection of Penny Dreadfuls.” Elizabeth James; Adrian Edwards, The British Library, 19 Jan. 2012,

“BBC - Culture - The Shocking Tale of the Penny Dreadful.” BBC News, BBC,

“Charles Dickens and Sweeney Todd.” Charles Dickens and Sweeney Todd, 19 Dec. 2007,

“Penny Dreadfuls.” The British Library, The British Library, 13 Feb. 2014,

“Penny Dreadfuls.” Children's Literature Review,,

Richards, Jeffrey. Imperialism and Juvenile Literature. Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1989.

“Victorian Era Research.” Victorian Era Research,

Wukovits, John F. The Victorian Era. Detroit, Lucent Books, 2013.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.