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Pop Fiction Collection

The late nineteenth and early twentieth century saw a boom in the production and distribution of cheap, single volume fiction and the proliferation of genre fiction. Novels of this type were considered disposable and lacking in literary merit.

This collection represents the ephemeral novel, and shift in publishing business models. These titles would have been mass produced for a mass audience with many of the titles in this collection containing advertisements. This collection is part of the Turnbull Named Collections.

The prolific authors Nat Gould (1857–1919) and Edgar Wallace (1875–1932) are well represented. Both were tremendously popular during their lifetimes but are little remembered today. Gould wrote horse-racing themed novels, while Wallace was a best-selling author who wrote popular thrillers.

Cover of A Trust Betrayed, showing a woman in a fancy hat pointed at a portrait of a man.
‘Fairfax’, A trust betrayed, [190-?]. Record page

British Publishing houses Ward Lock & Co, George Newnes Ltd and Hutchinson & Co are well represented, and a number of titles are part of series libraries published by Amalgamated Press such as the Fiction Lovers Library, the Sunday Companion Library, and the Woman’s World Library.

The titles in this collection date from the 1890s though to the 1930s and are a mixture of pot-boilers, cliff hangers and romances. Many of the works include advertisements. The books in this collection were cheaply produced and have flimsy paper bindings making them especially fragile.

The Pop Fiction Collection appears to be the amalgamation of the Romantic Fiction Collection and the Sixpenny Novels Collection.

Cover of The Admirable Carfew, showing a fairly colonialist scene of a European man and a Middle Eastern man. A camel looks on.
Edgar Wallace, The admirable Carfew, [192-?]. Record page

Access items in this collection

Original items in this collection can be requested through the Library’s catalogue and consulted in the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room.

This collection is catalogued online and may be called up as a list on the National Library catalogue by searching ‘PopFic’ using the ‘in call number’ search option in the NLNZ catalogue advanced search.