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Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory: The Working Life of Herbert Allingham (1867-1936) Paperback – 19 Sep 2012

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Golden Duck (UK) Ltd; 1st Edition edition (19 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1899262075
  • ISBN-13: 978-1899262076
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,733,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory is not a biography. It is exactly what it says in the subtitle on the cover ‘The working life of Herbert Allingham’. I read it because I’m a fan of his daughter, the crime writer Margery Allingham, and I was fascinated to learn about her family background. I hadn’t known that her father (in fact her whole family) worked in the popular literature industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Herbert Allingham was born into it.

Julia Jones (no relation!) inherited the Allingham family archive when Herbert’s youngest daughter, Joyce, died, and Julia has also written a biography of Margery - soon to be released as an e-book. The archive has proved to be a wonderful resource - a unique collection of documents giving us a window onto the world of ephemeral popular literature - the soap operas of our great grandparents’ generations.

Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory is a fascinating account of the growth, flowering and diminishing of mass-market literary culture - the penny and half-penny illustrated weekly papers that my grandmother used to refer to as ‘penny dreadfuls’, but read all the same. Most of the titles have now vanished, but Tit-Bits was still around when I was a child and my mother was still reading Women’s Weekly and My Weekly (in their modern transformations) when she died a few years ago.

This book tells a big part of the social history of Britain - how the weekly papers with their serials and stories both reflected and influenced a sector of society. They often had titles such as ‘A Woman Scorned’, or ‘A Mother Cast Out’, and plots that resemble silent movie classics like ‘The Perils of Pauline’. Like modern day soap operas, they were unashamedly formulaic with every episode ending on a cliff-hanger.
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Format: Paperback
Julia Jones' latest book, Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory, is a feat of research, interpretation, and writing. This all goes on the background, however, while the reader is swept along by the energy of her narrative and the variety of her focus. Reading the book is like watching a juggler throw up one ball and another and another, and never dropping any. The fates of different characters reflect each other as the author weaves together the strands in her story. Because biography apart, this is a story of life in England over fifty years. The characters are Herbert Allingham, anonymous story and serial writer for cheap fiction papers, with his family, friends and colleagues; notables good and the bad in a publishing world evolving from cosy intimacy to hard-nosed corporate industry; individual readers of cheap papers - boys, girls, men and women - responding to stories that reflect the struggle in their hard lives but offer escape through happy endings; and finally the characters in the stories themselves, heroes and heroines who undergo incredible ordeals but are saved on the last page, and villains who get what they deserve. Through all this runs a kindly streak that Julia Jones finds in the penny dreadfuls and Allingham himself, but also runs through the way she writes about those fifty years of lives.
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Format: Paperback
A wonderful book that really would have assisted with my A Level History course (had I read it beforehand!)
I loved every word- it was an interesting and a delightful read and I would definitely recommend it to anyone!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book on a fascinating subject - recommended for anyone interested in popular literature from the late Victorian Era through to the 1930s
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