Monday, April 6, 2015

A-Z: E is for Ela the Outcast by Thomas Peckett Prest

A-Z Challenge again for the letter E. The penny dreadful I'm featuring today is Ela, the Outcast; Or, The Gipsy of Rosemary Dell by Thomas Peckett Prest.  Thomas was an icon in the penny dreadful sensation and was most known for authoring the penny dreadful Varney the Vampire and also co-authoring the timeless horror tale, String of Pearls.   More on those tales later throughout the A-Z Challenge, but for today, I'll be focusing on Ela the Outcast.

"Ela, the Outcast; Or, The Gipsy of Rosemary Dell"

Ela the Outcast was one of Thomas Peckett Prest's most successful penny dreadfuls.  According the British Library, among other sources, Ela the Outcast reported weekly sales at 30,000 copies which was incredibly impressive for the mid 1800s.  The successful romance "publication extended to 104 numbers over two years."  It had a "melodramatic plot" which we can probably compare to many of today's soap operas.  What I found most interesting about this series was even though it was undoubtedly successful in 1840's, it's popularity hasn't stood the test of time like String of Pearls or other penny dreadfuls.  In fact, from what I was able to find, there is little written about the series at all.  Isn't that strange?  I did a bit more research and I discovered that the series had such a following during it's time that there were successful plays produced based on the series which I suspect further enhanced its popularity.  If you're interested, take a look at the author's preface and read how he thanks his readers, mentions the plays and actresses and acknowledges the series success.

Where can I get a copy of Ela, the Outcast; Or, The Gipsy of Rosemary Dell?

Thanks to Google Books, I found my FREE e-copy and boy was I surprised because I couldn't find it anywhere else!  Click here, you can read the story online there too!

Have an awesome day!

Mina Burrows


Nick Wilford said...

Funny how it was really big and then pretty much forgotten about. It must have captured the imagination at the time but lacked something to make it truly timeless.

Elise Fallson said...

I wonder what made Ela such a hit? Guess I need to read and find out!

I'll be heading out your way soon :D ... I need to email you!!!

Sophie Duncan said...

It's interesting how some things that are incredibly popular for a brief period just disappear from history. It happens with toy crazes as well as books - we all remember cabbage patch dolls and tellytubby toys, but there are others that had their day, like clackers, which were a hit in the 1970's.
Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
Wittegen Press

Dani said...

You come up with some of the best themes every year!!

S. L. Hennessy said...

Ella sound awesome! Again, one Ive never heard of and can't wait to read!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's wild to think something could be so popular then but no one knows about it now.
Then again, I can think of a lot of flash-in-the-pan music bands no one remembers...

cleemckenzie said...

What's popular one day often disappears the next. Then there are the unpopular works like those of Van Gogh. Remember him? Popularity is a fickle mistress.
Love these Penny Dreadful stories.

Megan Morgan said...

Oh this is an awesome theme! I love penny dreadfuls.

djinnia said...

Wow. It's sad. I wonder if he had some scandal that had the ton turn against him or something? Like beau Brummell who ended up in debt and shunned by the ton for it.

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

I wish you'd tell us a little more about the premises of the stories. They all sound dreadful and fascinating :) And it looks like this one even had a fandom in its own time...

@TarkabarkaHolgy from
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