Wednesday, 9 December 2015


Once found in their millions- the 'yellowback' novel was one of the first attempts at popular cheap literature for the masses and with the advent of railway travel and the railway bookstall they could be found everywhere. They really were a follow on from the early Victorian 'Penny Dreadful' with their heyday in the 1870 - 90 period. Usually featuring a sensational and lurid coloured cover they were quite often reprints of existing novels but non fiction and educational subjects are occasionally found.

Cheapness was of paramount importance and so the colour printed (Often with a yellow background - hence the name)  and glazed strawboard  cover protected the contents which were printed on cheap thin paper. This has of course meant they have worn badly over the years and to find a survivor in a reasonable and collectable state is a rarity!

  The First Canal Novel.


This book can claim to be the first 'canal novel' where the cut  plays the main part in a story
which otherwise includes country houses and drunken boatmen. First published in 1888 this cheap yellowback edition appeared in the following year - 1889. It is, in either edition, a very rare book ,so much so, that a copy of the above yellowback which was the first to appear at auction for many years  fetched £504 recently.                                                                                                                                                     

'All Along the River'  a typical yellowback from 1893 with a waterway theme.

  With an increasing use of the Thames - pleasure boating guides began to be published in the 1850's. This cheap yellowback style guide dates from the 1880's.

A late Victorian guide to the Broads.


John Macgregor an industrious Victorian individual started the craze for canoe touring canals,rivers and waterways in the 1860's and published this book which was to remain in print for 30 or 40 years. This cheap yellowback edition dates from 1880.

And Finally another rare item - Quite Unique in that it was published in Yorkshire Dialect - Hartley's novel first appeared in 1885.