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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A yellow-back is a cheap fiction novel which was published in Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century. They were occasionally called 'mustard-plaster' novels.

Developed in the 1840s to compete with the 'penny dreadful', Yellow-Backs were marketed as entertaining reading. They had brightly coloured covers, often printed by chromoxylography, that were attractive to a new class of readers, thanks to the spread of education and rail travel.

Routledges were one of the first publishers to begin marketing Yellow-Backs by starting their "Railway Library" in 1849. The series included 1,277 titles, published over 50 years. These mainly consisted of stereotyped reprints of fiction novels originally published as cloth editions. By the late nineteenth century, Yellow-Backs included sensational fiction, adventure stories, 'educational' manuals, handbooks, and cheap biographies.

Some typical examples of authors of Yellow-Backs include Robert Louis Stevenson and James Grant.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Yellow-back" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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