A crash course in Yellowbacks

British Yellowbacks, or ‘mustard-plaster’ novels, were a cheaply-made, inexpensive form of sensational novel popular in the second half of the 19th century. Thanks to the spread of education, literacy, and rail travel, the yellowbacks were perfect fodder for both new readers and those simply looking for an entertaining way to spend a lengthy, crowded commute.  Although yellowbacks were usually reprints of other popular novels and adventure tales, by the turn-of-the-century publications were also offered in the forms of ‘educational’ manuals, handbooks, and cheap biographies.

Yellowbacks were not only exciting on the inside, but their covers were particularly striking as well, like this strapping gentleman fighter…with illustrations!

SULLIVAN, John L., Reminiscenes Of A Nineteenth Century Gladiator. London: Routledge, 1892. (Image Courtesy Of Monash University Library.) [via BOOKTRYST]

Take a gander at the recently featured Yellowbacks on ABEBooks, and be sure to search online for your nearest Archive that features Penny Dreadful or Yellowback collections! 


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