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October 30 , 2010

Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory

The Working Life of Herbert Allingham (1867-1936)


He wrote all his life – but was he an author?

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Herbert Allingham was one of 'the men who wrote for the Million'. His melodramatic serial stories ran week after week in the ha'penny papers a hundred years ago. From his first published work in 1886 to his death in 1936 he entertained hundreds of thousands of working-class readers, bringing colour and entertainment into hard, precarious lives. But was he an author? He didn't think so. Nothing he wrote was ever published in book form and while the proprietors of the flimsy mass-market magazines made fortunes, their writers remained uncelebrated.

This biography seeks to change that. Herbert Allingham's daghters, detective novellist Margery and her sister Joyce, were proud of their father. They kept boxful of his stories, diaries, account books and letters from his editors. Julia Jones inherited this unique archive. She has used it to investigate the conditions of Allingham's working life and to glimpse some of his readers. Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory evokes the thrill of weekly fiction in the Great Age of Print.

'This is an important contribution to book history and a moving memorial to the many anonymous writers who have kept us company in our reading lives' Jenny Hartley, author of Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women

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