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19th Century Novels

The "triple-decker" novel was a standard form of publishing for British fiction from the early 1800s until the 1890s. The market for this form of fiction was closely tied to commercial "circulating libraries," such as Mudie's and W. H. Smith. Unlike free public libraries, these circulating libraries charged patrons to borrow books, much like video rental stores do today. Publishing longer works of fiction was quite expensive, and by releasing them in multiple parts publishers capt...



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The "triple-decker" novel was a standard form of publishing for British fiction from the early 1800s until the 1890s. The market for this form of fiction was closely tied to commercial "circulating libraries," such as Mudie's and W. H. Smith. Unlike free public libraries, these circulating libraries charged patrons to borrow books, much like video rental stores do today. Publishing longer works of fiction was quite expensive, and by releasing them in multiple parts publishers captured an audience who eagerly awaited the next installment while proceeds from the first volumes paid for the printing of later volumes. Often sensational in subject matter, the genre was populated by heroines in danger, characters in disguise, potions and poisons. The University of Illinois Library is digitizing and making openly accessible via the Internet Archive its extensive collections of triple-decker novels.


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December 12
2008
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