A collection of penny dreadfuls formed by Barry Ono – the music hall stage name of Frederick Valentine Harrison. An exuberant and pugnacious character himself, Ono bequeathed to the British (Museum) Library in 1941 his collection of popular and sensational penny stories and magazines which represent popular reading tastes of the Victorian age.
About the collection
What is available online?
You can find catalogue entries for each book on Explore the British Library
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
The collection is fully described in Penny dreadfuls and boys' adventures: the Barry Ono collection of Victorian popular literature in the British Library, by Elizabeth James and Helen R Smith (London: British Library, 1998). Copies are widely available and can also be found in the British Library Rare Books and Music, and Humanities Reading Rooms at shelfmarks RAR823.8 and HLR823.8.
Access to the collection
The original volumes have been restricted from general reading room use due to their fragility. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Preservation microfilms are available for consultation through the Rare Books and Music Reading Room (shelfmarks: Mic.C.920 - Mic.C.12487). The volumes have also been re-published in the microfilm series Popular literature in eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain: Units 3-10, The Barry Ono Collection of bloods and penny dreadfuls from the British Library (Woodbridge, Conn, Research Publications, 1991-93).
What is available in other organisations?
The Bodleian Library, Weston Library, University of Oxford holds two collections with penny dreadfuls:
- Frank Pettingell Collection of 800 volumes of 19th century 'penny-dreadful' publications, many published in parts, purchased by the Bodleian in 1966 from his widow
- The Opie Collection includes 4,000 comics, children’s magazines and penny dreadfuls
The City of London, Guildhall Library holds a collection of penny dreadfuls with a subject matter that relates directly to London history – particularly London crimes and sensations. The website includes a link to a selection of images.
The Gale Cengage digital resource, Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO): British Theatre, Music, and Literature: High and Popular Culture, with facsimiles of the Barry Ono Collection is available at subscribing institutions.
- Penny dreadfuls and boys' adventures: the Barry Ono collection of Victorian popular literature in the British Library, by Elizabeth James and Helen R Smith (London: British Library, 1998)
- Penny dreadfuls and other Victorian horrors. Michael Anglo (London, 1977)
- Fiction for the working man, 1830-1850. Louis James (London, 1963)
- Bibliography of the penny bloods of Edward Lloyd. John Medcraft (Dundee, 1945)
- New light on Sweeney Todd, Thomas Peckett Prest, James Malcolm Rymer and Elizabeth Caroline Grey. Helen R Smith (London, 2002)