Pulp Origins, 1890’s to 1918
Theories on the origins of the pulps differ. According to some scholars, the magazines originated in the United States when Frank A. Munsey, a publisher of stories about idealistic juveniles, transformed Argosy from a magazine designed for adolescent boys to one specializing in adventure stories for adults. Other scholars claim that the pulps owed their origin to nineteenth century dime novels, which were printed on wood-pulp paper and antedated Argosy. Most dime novels were Western stories, but stories about detective heroes were also popular. For example, a character named Old Cap Collier appeared in a series of detective stories that numbered more than seven hundred titles by 1900. His spirited individuality, skill in fisticuffs, and penchant for disguises made him especially popular among young male readers.
By the turn of the twentieth century, dime novelists had created such new urban detectives as Old Sleuth, Nick Carter, and Frank Merriwell. Popular during the 1880’s and 1890’s, stories in the Old Sleuth series were often set in such New York City locales as Broadway and the Bowery, where a young detective, disguised as an old man, solved a variety of crimes. The Nick Carter stories also reached their peak of popularity around the same time. Thousands of these stories, written by Eugene T. Sawyer, Frederick van Rensselaer Dey, and many other authors, appeared in such publications as the Nick Carter Library, which...
(The entire section is 491 words.)