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Now in proofreading: A Dreadful Temptation

columbusWe love Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller around here, so it’s always an exciting occasion when a new Mrs. Miller novel goes into proofreading. The latest project is A Dreadful Temptation; or, A Young Wife’s Ambition, a relatively short work that was published in the New York Family Story Paper immediately after Queenie’s Terrible Secret, running from December 26, 1881 to February 13, 1882. The edition we are working with comes from a hardcover reprint in the Columbus Series. This volume also contains the longer novel Wild Margaret by Geraldine Fleming; stay tuned for that one as a future project!

A Dreadful Temptation is now available at the Distributed Proofreaders project.  If you are interested in helping us create new eBook editions of these nearly-forgotten (yet surprisingly memorable) novels, you can read more about our proofreading effort and then visit the project page.
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Now in proofreading: White Dandy

White DandyOur latest proofreading project is an unusual item from prolific dime novel publisher J. S. Ogilvie: White Dandy; or, Master and I. A Horse’s Story.

This book, a self-described “companion to Black Beauty” follow’s that classic’s basic format, using a horse as a narrator and serving as a condemnation of animal cruelty.  A quick glance through the pages reveals some rather graphic violence, so this may not be the cute children’s book that the cover suggests.  Stay tuned for a closer analysis once the project completes and we are able to read the full text.

If you want to help preserve this vintage book in electronic format, you can join in at the project page. To learn more about the proofreading process, see this earlier post.

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Now in proofreading: The Twin Ventriloquists

The Twin VentriloquistsOur latest proofreading project is a dime novel from the Old Sleuth’s Own series: The Twin Ventriloquists; or, Nimble Ike and Jack the Juggler: A Tale of Strategy and Jugglery.

The dime novel era was rich with detectives, and this book gives a taste of what early popular mysteries were like.  It was common then, as now, for characters to recur in series of stories, and both Nimble Ike and Jack the Juggler have further adventures in other volumes.  Perhaps some of those tales will cross our path sooner or later!

If you want to help preserve this vintage book in electronic format, you can join in at the project page. To learn more about the proofreading process, see this earlier post.

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eBook available: In the Depths of the Dark Continent

crabsOur latest completed proofreading project is In the Depths of the Dark Continent; or, The Vengeance of Van Vincent, volume 109 in the Brave and Bold series of dime novels.  Like many Brave and Bold adventures, it is actually a condensed version of a serial previously published in the Golden Hours story paper, in this case a tale originally entitled Van Vincent’s Vow; or, Chased to the Heart of the Dark Continent.

In the story, a young man’s vow to avenge his uncle’s death leads him to Africa, where he pursues the villainous Doc Clancy into unknown territory, encountering countless dangers along the way. The adventure is sadly lacking in color, probably due to the fact that the text has been condensed from the original, and it contains many predictable dime novel clichés; still, there are certainly points of interest along the way, from the giant crab monsters depicted on the cover to a surprisingly brutal vision of Utopia:

Such a thing as money was not used in African Utopia. All hands worked, and the results of their different labors were freely exchanged, thus making everything of value equal to money.

When a man became too lazy to work for his living, he was thrown to a hungry lion as a warning to any who might chance to follow in his footsteps.

The people governed the beautiful place by electing a set of officers every year, and everything went on like clockwork.

The brutality of the tale also extends to its heroes, whose behavior often seems arrogant and senselessly destructive to the modern reader; clearly some attitudes have changed since the days of glorified colonialism.

You can find the entire story at Project Gutenberg, where it may be read online or downloaded in a variety of popular formats.

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eBook available: Wizard Will, the Wonder Worker

Wizard WillAnother proofreading project has been completed: Wizard Will, the Wonder Worker, the first in a series of dime novels about a heroic boy detective.  The story was written by Prentiss Ingraham, a colorful character who lived an adventurous youth and then spent his later years churning out literally hundreds of novels, many dealing with Buffalo Bill.

Wizard Will certainly reads like the product of an author who wrote countless tales and never looked back — the words flow without much regard for style or coherence, and it seems at times more like a first draft than a polished novel.  In spite of rough edges on the prose, though, this is clearly the product of a natural and enthusiastic storyteller, and it is filled with action, plot twists and melodrama worthy of Mrs. Miller. Being a product of its time, it also contains a few examples of the casual racism that pervades many dime novels.

Some uncomfortable moments aside, this book was designed to leave the reader wanting more, and at the end of the story you will probably be interested in finding out what happens next to Wizard Will, his family, and his enemies, the dreaded Land Sharks.  Fortunately, the next book in the series is available at Bowling Green State University’s Digital Resource Commons, and the team at Falvey will be keeping an eye out for further volumes.

You can find the first story at Project Gutenberg, where it can be read online or downloaded in a variety of popular formats.

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eBook available: Witty Pieces by Witty People

wittyThe 19th century was a good time for newspapers. With fewer competing media, papers had a huge readership, and with all those readers, a greater diversity of papers existed: not just news-oriented publications, but also story papers, agricultural papers, etc. One thing that a significant number of these papers had in common, regardless of other subject matter, was the inclusion of humor, either as “filler” material or as a regular column.

Our latest completed proofreading project, Witty Pieces by Witty People, published by Philadelphia-based Royal Publishing, is a book-length collection of humor and cartoons harvested from a variety of sources, mostly American and British newspapers. As with our previous “humorous” release, Atchoo!, very little of the humor remains funny to the contemporary reader, and a significant amount is offensive, but as a survey of jokes from a particular point in time, it makes an interesting study.

There are a few jokes that you still might hear variations of today, such as:

“Pa,” said a lad to his father, “I have often read of people poor but honest; why don’t they sometimes say ‘rich but honest?’”

“Tut, tut, my son, nobody would believe them,” answered the father.

There are others that were once timely but now can’t be understood by most modern readers without some explanation, like:

Some one suggests that John L. Sullivan‘s bust be placed on the new two-cent postage stamps. But Sullivan can’t be licked.

For more, visit the Project Gutenberg page, where the entire text may be read online or downloaded in a variety of popular eBook formats.

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eBook available: How to Stuff Birds and Animals

How to Stuff Birds and AnimalsAnother proofreading project has been completed, resulting in a new free eBook. Today’s title, How to Stuff Birds and Animals, is part of Frank Tousey’s Ten Cent Hand Book series, a companion to the earlier release, How to Fence. As with its predecessor, it packs an enormous amount of information into its 60-odd pages, intimidating the aspiring taxidermist with a torrent of dense and often disorganized instruction peppered with occasionally disturbing illustrations.

It is unlikely that reading this book is actually going to result in a working knowledge of taxidermy, but it is an interesting glimpse into the popular literature of the very early twentieth century.

The book can be viewed online or downloaded in a variety of popular formats from Project Gutenberg.

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Now in proofreading: They Looked and Loved

They Looked and LovedHot on the heels of the release of Guy Kenmore’s Wife; and The Rose and the Lily, we continue our exploration of the works of Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller with a new proofreading project: They Looked and Loved; or, Won by Faith, a novel first serialized in The New York Family Story Paper in 1892 with a different subtitle: The Mystery of Pirate Beach.

As with other Mrs. Miller tales, you should expect romance, melodrama, plot twists, and a touch of the gothic.

To help us create a convenient eBook edition of this long out of print story, first read more about our proofreading effort and then visit the project page.

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eBook available: Guy Kenmore’s Wife; and The Rose and the Lily

Guy Kenmore's Wife; and The Rose and the LilyA few months ago, we released a double-eBook of Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller’s The Bride of the Tomb; and Queenie’s Terrible Secret.  Today, work has been completed on another omnibus edition of Mrs. Miller’s works, featuring Guy Kenmore’s Wife; and The Rose and the Lily.

As in the previous collection, the two stories stand alone but share key thematic elements.  Also as before, the tales are filled with plot twists, excitement, and highly improbable coincidences.  To say too much would be to spoil the joy of discovery; half the fun of these books is seeing just how far the author would go to keep readers interested and engaged!

It is worth noting that Guy Kenmore’s Wife (originally serialized in the New York Family Story Paper under the title Irene Brooke) has a slightly slower start than some Mrs. Miller novels — but once it gets its momentum going, it doesn’t stop!  The Rose and the Lily is a slightly shorter and less complex story, also originally published in the Family Story Paper, but noteworthy for being written entirely in the present tense.

If you have enjoyed our previous dime novel and story paper offerings, there is much more to enjoy here. The stories can be read online or downloaded in a variety of popular formats through Project Gutenberg.

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Now in proofreading: In the Depths of the Dark Continent

crabs

Our latest proofreading project is a work of early science fiction: In the Depths of the Dark Continent; or, the Vengence of Van Vincent.  With a mysterious lost civilization and legions of horrible crab monsters, there’s plenty of action on display here!

First published in the Golden Hours story paper, our copy is the version that was reprinted as part of the Brave & Bold series.  The story was written by Cornelius Shea, about whom you can learn more in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

To help us create an eBook of this story by proofreading some pages, visit the project page.  To learn more about how the proofreading process works, see this earlier post.

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Last Modified: June 24, 2013