Edward Viles
Black Bess; or, The Knight of the Road
(E. Harrison, 1861)
C.140.a.15     26 x 17 cm

'Give me a highwayman and I was full to the brim - night and the coming of day are still related in my mind with the doings of Jack Rann or Jerry Abershaw.' (Robert Louis Stevenson 'A gossip on romance')

 
Black Bess
 
  Penny Dreadfuls
 
     
     
 

Black Bess runs to 2028 pages, with a 688 page sequel, and may in part have been written by John Frederick Smith, another successful penny dreadful author who was known for his long-running historical sagas. Highwaymen endured as popular subjects from the 1830s to the 1890s, encouraged by the success of mainstream crime novels by W. Harrison Ainsworth and Bulwer Lytton. This cover demonstrates how improved and cheaper colour printing techniques transformed the wrapper into an exciting inducement to purchase.