Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory: the Working Life of Herbert Allingham 1867 - 1936

JULIA JONES   Foreword by Jenny Hartley 

"It's social history and biography and a mediation on what it is to read, what it is to be anonymous, to be ephemeral and invisible all at once." Nicci Gerrard

published 1st October 2012 paperback edition  £17.99 9781899262076 kindle edition £7.99 9781899262144  click here for facebook discussion page


Herbert Allingham was one of 'the men who wrote for the Million'. His melodramatic serial stories ran week after week in the halfpenny papers a hundred years ago. From his first published work in 1886 until his death in 1936 he entertained hundreds of thousands of working-class readers, bring colour and excitement 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 daughters, detective novelist Margery and her sister Joyce, were proud of their father. They kept boxfuls of his stories, diaries, account books and letters from 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)

The cover illustration has been adapted from She Loved a Rogue, a weekly serial story by Herbert Allingham running in the Family Journal 1932. Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory has been designed by Megan Trudell and is illustrated throughout.

 reviewed in the Bookbag  (John van der Kiste)

Independent eBook Review (Cally Phillips)

Bear Alley Blogspot  (Robert Kirkpatrick)

Bottle Street Gazette (Roger Johnson)

Church Times (Peggy Woodford) 

The Oldie   (Juliet Gardiner) 

What am I reading? Kathleen Jones's book blog

Children's Books History Society Robert Kirkpatrick

History Today (Fiona Gruber)