E.S. Turner's first book, published in 1948, is a wholly original, richly researched and uncommonly insightful study of a somewhat disreputable genre: the "Boys' Weekly" papers commonly known as 'penny dreadfuls'. "A classic of its kind...[Turner] ploughed through back numbers of the old blood-and-thunder adventure magazines specialising in cliffhanger serials; the young hero would be left hanging over a cliff in a totally impossible situation, which would be easily resolved in the next issue: 'With one bound Jack was free'. Social history had never been as much fun or, with three extra printings in its first week - such was the demand - as profitable'. (Jonathan Sale, "Guardian"). "Some people felt that E.S. Turner may have invented a new kind of book - the popular social history, very British, very funny, but written with a glistening elegance". (Andrew O'Hagan, "London Review of Books").