This study breaks new ground surveying the origins of the Gothic chapbook, its publishers and authors, in order to establish conclusively the impact these pamphlets had on the development of the Gothic genre. Considered the illegitimate offspring of the Gothic novel, the lowly chapbook flooded the market in the late eighteenth century, creating a separate and distinct secondary market for tales of terror. The trade was driven by a handful of individuals who were booksellers and dealers, circulating library proprietors, stationers, and small publishers – what they produced were more than four hundred chapbooks, bluebooks and shilling shockers containing Gothic tales from magazines, redactions of popular novels, extractions of entire inset tales, and original tales of terror. This book responds to the urgent and pressing need to contextualise the Gothic chapbook in ascertaining a more concise and comprehensive view of the entire Gothic genre.
On a crisp fall day in October of 1862, a precocious seventeen-year-old boy went into a bookshop in his hometown of Hagerstown, Maryland, and purchased a composition book. Into his new diary, John R. King would steadfastly record what he did, saw and heard daily, as the Civil War raged around him. During May of 1862, after learning the photography trade, John took portraits of Union soldiers stationed in the Shenandoah Valley. Then, on May 23, 1862, when he heard the sounds of battle, he attempted to flee on a wagon. He was soon captured by Stonewall Jackson's troops. His treasured diary was taken. Force marched to a Confederate prison, John vowed revenge. Two weeks after escaping from captivity, John joined the Union Army. He fought with fury, courage and valor, was wounded three times and became a war hero. Later, John was not only appointed by two presidents to prestigious positions in the Pension Bureau, but he also became leader of the Grand Army of the Republic. After being lost for 150 years, his diary was recently discovered and is now being published.