Postbellum, Pre-Harlequin: American Romance Publishing in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century

Publication year

The years between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the twentieth century were highly consequential for the evolution of the popular romance genre in the United States. Yet our accounts of this crucial period - spanning the emergence of new and often short-lived weekly romance story papers in the 1870s and the consolidation of romance-centered dime novel series and libraries by the 1890s - remain underdeveloped. [...] I will also suggest that many of the elements of American romance publishing we currently take for granted as late-twentieth century innovations, including multiple points of view, proliferating subgenres, and diverse publishing venues, were already distinctive features of the buzzing, blooming, romance market at the end of the last century. (57)