Matthew Kerns — Author
In 1860, brothers Erastus & Irwin Beadle
released a new series of cheap paperbacks, Beadle's Dime Novels. With increased literacy leading to a higher demand for less expensive reading material, other publishers like George Munro, Robert DeWitt, and Street & Smith soon followed, and their stories of Western border romance, high-seas piracy, railway, circus, gold-digger, and other adventures delighted audiences of all ages. Writers like Prentiss Ingraham, Thomas C. Harbaugh, Albert W. Aiken, Edward L. Wheeler, Joseph W. Badger, Jr., and Ned Buntline became household names, and the real men that they turned into the heroes of their stories became legends. Buffalo Bill Cody and Texas Jack Omohundro, the famous buffalo hunter and the famous Texas cowboy, went from scouting for the Army at Ft. McPherson, Nebraska onto the stage in Chicago as The Scouts of the Prairie. For their second theatrical season, they were joined by their old friend and legendary lawman James 'Wild Bill' Hickok, introducing America and the world to the Western. Though Dime novels were eventually replaced by comic books and magazines, and western stories by authors like Owen Wister, Zane Grey, and Louis L'amour reached huge audiences, they were fundamental to the way Americans were entertained in the 19th Century, providing stories and heroes that would live forever. They were the foundation of the Hollywood western, and in them, readers could see the best in themselves.