The Acquisitions Table: The Queen of the Night

Update: This item has already been adopted, but you can browse the 2012 Adopt-A-Book Catalog to search among the 150 items up for adoption. Or join us for the fifth annual Adopt-A-Book event will be held on Tuesday, April 3, at 6 p.m. when there will be 50 new items up for adoption!

The Queen of the Night. A story of love, crime and intrigue in wicked New York. [New York]: Richmond and Co., [1871]     (Richmond’s novels, new series, no. 18)

This is one of several very rare titles from the “Richmond’s novels” series that AAS recently acquired. Apparently unrecorded, The Queen of the Night is rather archly credited to “the author of ‘One thousand popular tales’”—a reference to a book title, or to one of the ultra-prolific dime novel writers of the time? The Queen of the Night reveals for us the highs and lows of life in “wicked New York.” It begins at Sing-Sing, where remorseful convict Whiskie is breaking rocks, only to encounter his former partner in crime, the manipulative, cold-blooded gang leader Slippery Blacksmith. Whiskie resists Slippery’s unrefusable offer, only to die—or so Slippery thinks, before he breaks out of Sing-Sing. Months later, a freed Whiskie has reinvented himself as “Hugh Mortimer,” a gentleman in pursuit of Gretchen, a wealthy young resident of fashionable Fifth Avenue. But the “Queen of the Night,” who shines in the most select social circles as easily as she dominates the New York underworld, conspires with Slippery to turn Whiskie’s designs to their own advantage. Many lurid plot twists later, Whiskie casts his nemeses into a watery grave and marries the still-undefiled Gretchen.

Published by

David Whitesell

Curator of Books, American Antiquarian Society

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