“A BEAUTIFUL GIRL INVITES A PERIL”: GIPSY BLAIR, EARLY “DIME NOVEL” DETECTIVE STORY
(HALSEY, Harlan Page) TAYLOR, Judson R., pseudonym. Gipsy Blair, The Western Detective. New York: J.S. Ogilvie, (1882). Octavo, original light tan paper wrappers. $450.
First edition of this action-packed adventure of assassination, capture and escape, disguise and revelation— set on the violent western frontier.
“Like jazz, the hard-boiled private detective is entirely an American invention, and it was given life in the pages of pulp magazines… offspring of ‘dime novels” (Otto Penzler). Antecedents of today’s mass market paperbacks and comic books, dime novels, penny dreadfuls, and story papers proliferated in the late 19th-century, as the reading population grew steadily. Harlan Page Halsey (aka Judson R. Taylor) wrote pulp fiction for dime novels. His chief character, Old Sleuth (patterned after Allan Pinkerton), “was the first successful and continuous detective character” (Denning, 23), appearing for the first time in the Fireside Companion in 1872. He and subsequent characters like him sleuthed their ways into detective serials and dime novels throughout the period. Western detective Gipsy Blair was among them. A reader “thinks he’s right out in the middle of it— the shootin’ and the stabbin’ and all” (Stephen Crane). With 10 pages of publisher’s advertisements at the rear. Hubin, 398. Wright 2411. Owner signature on title page.
Text fine, edge-wear to fragile original paper wrappers (mostly to rear panel).