Though largely unknown today, “Ned Buntline” (Edward Zane Carroll Judson) was one of the most influential authors of 19th-century America. He published over 170 novels, edited multiple popular and political publications, and helped pioneer the seafaring adventure, city mystery and Western genres. It was his pirate tales that Tom Sawyer constantly reenacted, his “Bowery B’hoys” that came to define the distinctive slang and swagger of urban American characters, and his novels and plays that turned an unknown scout into Buffalo Bill, King of the Border Men. But before “Ned Buntline” became a mainstay of the popular press, he had been on his way to becoming one of the nation’s highbrow literary elites. He was praised by the leading critics, edited an important literary journal, and his stories appeared in the era’s most prestigious publications. This study examines how and why “Ned Buntline” moved from prestigious to popular authorship and argues that the transformation was precipitated by one very specific event: in 1846, Edward Z. C. Judson was lynched. A close examination of Judson’s life, writing, and the coverage of him in the newspapers of the day (including the remarkable story of how he survived a lynching) demonstrates that the same issues that led to his lynching also led to his rebirth as a new kind of American author.


Ned Buntline, antebellum American fiction, 19th-century popular press, publishing history, lynching


“Awful Tragedy!” Republican Banner [Nashville Tennessee] 16 Mar. 1846: 3. Print.

Blakey, George D. “A Report on the Proceedings of the First Baptist Church, in Nashville, in the case of Mrs. Mary D. Porterfield, widow of the late Robert R. Porterfield, who was killed by E. Z. C. Judson, together with her defense.” Tri-Weekly Nashville Union [Tennessee] 16 and 18 Jul. 1846: 2. Print.

Bradshaw, T. M. Ned Buntline: So Much Larger than Life. Stamford, NY: CreateSpace, 2019. Print.

Buckley, Peter G. “The Case Against Ned Buntline: The ‘Words, Signs, and Gestures’ of Popular Authorship.” Prospects (1988): 249–72. Print.

Buntline, Ned. Knickerbocker Magazine 27 (May 1846): 466–67. Print.

Buntline, Ned.“My Log-Book.” Knickerbocker Magazine 11 (May–Jun. 1838): 443– 52, 488–99. Print.

Buntline, Ned.“Ned Buntline’s Life-Yarn, Part I.” Knickerbocker Magazine 26 (Nov. 1845): 432–44. Print.

Buntline, Ned. “Ned Buntline’s Life-Yarn, Part II.” Knickerbocker Magazine 27 (Jan. 1846): 35–40. Print.

Buntline, Ned. “Ned Buntline’s Life-Yarn, Part III.” Knickerbocker Magazine 27 (Jun. 1846): 537–44. Print.

Buntline, Ned. “Ned Buntline’s Life-Yarn, Part IV.” Knickerbocker Magazine 28 (Jul. 1846): 62–68. Print.

Buntline, Ned. “Ned Buntline’s New, Explanatory Modern Dictionary.” The World We Live In [New York City] 15 Aug. 1845: 59. Print.

Buntline, Ned. The Curse! A Tale of Crime and its Retribution, Founded on the Facts of Real Life. Boston: Roberts and Garfield, 1847. Print.

Buntline, Ned. The Mysteries and Miseries of New York. New York: Berford, 1848. Print.

Buntline, Ned. “The Veiled Lady; or, Who Can She Be?” Middlebury Gazette [Wisconsin] 7 May 1845: 1. Print.

Buntline, Ned. The Volunteer; or, the Maid of Monterey. Boston: F. Gleason, 1847. Print.

Buntline, Ned. Western Literary Journal & Monthly Review 1 (Nov. 1844): 26, 58–59, 63. Print.

Buntline, Ned. Western Literary Journal & Monthly Review 1 (Dec. 1844): 112–13. Print.

Buntline, Ned.Western Literary Journal & Monthly Review 1 (Jan. 1845): 183. Print.

“Conditions and Operations of the Treasury of Tennessee.” Republican Banner [Nashville] 23 Oct. 1846: 2. Print.

Clark, Lewis Gaylord. “Editor’s Table.” Knickerbocker Magazine 24 (Jul. 1844): 102. Print.

Clark, Lewis Gaylord. “Editor’s Table.” Knickerbocker Magazine 24 (Dec. 1844): 582–83. Print.

Clark, Lewis Gaylord. “Editor’s Table.” Knickerbocker Magazine 25 (Apr. 1845): 373. Print.

Clark, Lewis Gaylord. “Editor’s Table.” Knickerbocker Magazine 26 (Oct. 1845): 382. Print.

Denning, Michael. Mechanic Accents: Dime Novels and Working-Class Culture in America. London: Verso, 1998. Print.

“Drama of Saturday.” Republican Banner [Nashville Tennessee] 18 Mar. 1846: 2. Print.

“Gossip with Readers.” Knickerbocker Magazine 27 (Apr. 1846): 376–77. Print.

“Great Excitement in Nashville; Murder & Lynch Law.” Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 24 Mar. 1846: 1. Print.

Halttunen, Karen. Confidence Men & Painted Women: A Study of Middle- Class Culture in America, 1830–1970. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1982. Print.

Hine, Lucius. Huron Reflector [New York] 22 Jul. 1845: 2. Print.

Huron Reflector [New York] 20 May 1845: 1. Print.

Kidd, Hudson. Republican Banner [Nashville Tennessee] 23 Jul. 1845: 2. Print.

Knickerbocker Magazine 26 (Nov. 1845): 27. Print.

Larsen, Dennis M. “Ned Buntline and the Allen Family of Pittsburgh.” Dime Novel Round Up (Fall 2015): 109–24. Print.

“Lawlessness: Mob in Nashville—Judson nearly Hung.” (Reprinted from Cincinnati Gazette.) Public Ledger [Philadelphia]) 25 Mar. 1846: 1. Print.

Louisville Daily Courier [Kentucky] 17 Apr. 1846: 2. Print.

Monaghan, Jay. The Great Rascal: The Live & Adventures of Ned Buntline. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1952. Print.

“Murder.” (Reprinted from Nashville Gazette.) Louisville Daily Courier [Kentucky] 17 Mar. 1846: 3. Print.

“Nashville Murder.” Louisville Daily Courier [Kentucky] 19 Mar. 1846: 3. Print.

Paterson, Thomas V. The Extraordinary Public Proceedings of E. Z. C. Judson, Alias, Ned Buntline Against Thomas V. Paterson, for an Alledged Libel Contained in a Pamphlet Entitled “The Private Life, Public Career, and Real Character of That Odious Rascal Ned Buntline!!” New York, 1849. Archive.org. Web. 9 Aug. 2019.

Pond, Fred E. Life & Adventures of Ned Buntline. New York: Cadmus Bookshop, 1919. Print.

Republican Banner [Nashville Tennessee] 16 Jun. 1845: 2. Print.

Republican Banner 23 Jul. 1845: 2. Print.

Republican Banner 19 Nov. 1845: 3. Print.

Republican Banner 11 Mar. 1846: 3. Print.

“Review of the Report of the Proceedings of the First Baptist Church in Nashville in the Case of Mrs. Mary D. Porterfield by George D. Blakey, Esq. of Kentucky.” Tri-Weekly Nashville Union [Tennessee] 8 and 11 Aug. 1846: 2. Print.

Scientific American [New York City] 3 Oct. 1846: 10. Print.

“Smithland: One of Kentucky’s Most Picturesque Towns.” Crittenden Press [Marion, KY] 11 Apr. 1895: 1. Print.

Spirit of the Times [New York City] Jan. 1848: 536. Print.

“Statement of Edward Z. C. Judson to the Public Press.” (Reprinted from Pittsburg Dispatch.) Clarksville Weekly Chronicle [Tennessee] 19 May 1846: 2. Print.

Streeby, Shelley. American Sensations: Class, Empire, and the Production of Popular Culture. Berkeley: U of California P, 2002. Print.

Teitloff, Faye Tramble. Images of America: Livingston County Kentucky. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2009. Books.google.hr. Web. 9 Aug. 2019.

Tompkins, Jane. Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790–1860. New York: Oxford UP, 1986. Print.

“Tragedy at Nashville. Disgraceful Mob—Lynch Law.” (Reprinted from Nashville Whig.) Perry County Democrat [Bloomfield Pennsylvania] 9 Apr. 1846: 3. Print.

Venable, W. H. “Early Periodical Literature of the Ohio Valley, part 3.” Magazine of Western History 8.4 (Aug. 1888): 298–308. Archive.org. Web. 9 Aug. 2019.

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