string-of-pearls-lovatts-pie-shopI love to read in my spare time so let me introduce you to a Victorian craze that still continues today…

The Penny Dreadful (or Penny Blood) was a term applied to 19th century British fiction publications, usually lurid serial stories appearing in parts over a number of weeks, each part costing a penny.

The term, was soon applied to a variety of publications that featured cheap sensational fiction, such as story papers and booklet “libraries.” The Penny Dreadfuls were printed on cheap pulp paper and were aimed primarily at working class adolescents.

Halfpenny Dreadfuls came about in the mid-1890s when publisher Alfred Harmsworth decided to do something about what was widely perceived as the corrupting influence of the Penny Dreadfuls.

Harmsworth killed the Penny Dreadful by the simple process of producing the Ha’penny Dreadfuller.A.A. Milne

The Pyrate

He issued new story papers: The Half-Penny Marvel, The Union Jack and Pluck, all priced at one half-penny.

At first the stories were high-minded, moral tales, reportedly based on true experiences, but it was not long before these papers started using the same kind of material as the publications they competed against.

Read on Macduff…

(these stories require a PDF reader – Foxit Reader is free, lightweight and available for most platforms)

The Accidental Murderess by Eugenia Mooney

The String Of Pearls (aka Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street)

Varney The Vampyre (or The Feast Of Blood)

I Am – John Clare

Hear, Here…(radio plays – click to listen)

Recorded, Produced & Performed by Eugenia Mooney & Michael Furey.
Intro music from Kevin Macleod – Some Amount of Evil.
Some background music Written, Performed & Produced by Kevin Macleod.
Background music on “White Raven Grande Masque” from “Grande Masquerade” by Nox Arcana.
“The Accidental Murderess” is an original written by Eugenia Mooney, all other Authors as noted.



Penny Dreadful Stories — 8 Comments

  1. Read your story Eugenia Mooney and I am wondering if you are the lady who lived
    on Pritchard Avenue when you were a little girl. I also lived on Pritchard Ave.
    many years ago. I also was at your Wedding some years ago.

    Would like to hear from you via email.

    • Hello Frances,
      Unfortunately, no…I am not the woman you knew.
      A strange coincidence of character perhaps! LOL
      Best wishes,
      E. Mooney

  2. I’m using The Accidental Murdress as an example of Penny Dreadful’s legacy in today’s world for a class project, and for that I need to know when the story was written. Was it in 2008?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Sofia! Glad you enjoyed the story, it was indeed penned in 2008…seens an age ago already! If possible, I would be honouted to see the final project – it sounds interesting!

  3. Of course! I’ll e-mail it to you once it’s ready, ok? It’s due on April 4th so it should come shortly after! Thank you very much for your quick reply!

  4. Does anyone know if there is a way to get a hard copy of one of these stories. I know it’s a long shot in the dark but I’m hoping to find an original of The String of Pearls.

    • Amanda,
      I can’t speak for finding an “original” of any Penny Dreadful – they weren’t printed to last since they were originally printed in serial magazine format over several issues. There have been some reprints over the years – and of course various eBook versions. You may find a few hardcopies on Amazon (or similar online retail sources) – however, they are simply printed from sources such as what we have available here – in which case, you’d be just as well to print it yourself! Sometimes you may find these books as freely available files on (though, oddly, not this one) or even Amazon.

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