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eBook available: Beautiful but Poor

Our latest Project Gutenberg release (courtesy of Distributed Proofreaders, using images from our Digital Library) is the novel Beautiful but Poor, by “Julia Edwards” (a pseudonym shared by several of publisher Street & Smith’s male writers).

This “working girl” romance tells of a young woman who sews folios for low wages in a bindery but who draws attention due to her unusual talent, beauty and kindness. This being a dime novel, she of course has a secret identity, and she survives several dangers (and disappoints multiple suitors) before all is revealed.

The book stands out due to its occasionally humorous and conversational tone, which periodically diverts from the narrative to rant about political matters or make dry comments. It is also somewhat self-referential, being about the publishing industry and featuring characters who are themselves aware of dime novels, as demonstrated by this exchange:

“Frank says he don’t know hardly how to begin, but he means to write a romance about it. He is going to call it ‘The Angel of the Storm; or, The Pilot’s Timely Warning.’”

“That will sound very grand,” said Mr. W——, with a smile. “It seems to me I saw a dime novel, published by one of our city small fry, called ‘The Angel of the Washtub—a Romance of Soap-Suds and Starch.’ It must have sold hugely.”

One authorial aside demonstrates both of the book’s distinctive traits by mentioning the prolific author of story paper sea tales (often for Street & Smith), Roger Starbuck:

That “old barnacle” (I got that idea from Roger Starbuck) couldn’t love anything but money and—her wretched old self.

If you’d like the experience the full text for yourself, you can find the novel in its entirety on Project Gutenberg, where it can also be downloaded in popular eBook formats.


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Last Modified: September 7, 2022