Shark Alley

Copley, Watson and the Shark

THE MEMOIRS OF A PENNY-A-LINER James ‘Jack’ Vincent (1808 – c.1888) was a Chartist novelist and journalist whose name is now as obscure as it was once, briefly, famous, his popular fiction from the first half of the nineteenth century quickly eclipsed by the next generation of literary authors, a generation that seemed to proliferate… Continue reading Shark Alley

Ainsworth’s Guy Fawkes: Tragic Hero, Catholic Martyr

Guy Fawkes mask

Remember, remember the fifth of November Gunpowder, treason and plot. I see no reason, why gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot. Nowadays, the image of Guy Fawkes – the man who tried to blow up Parliament on November 5, 1605, assassinating James I so a popular revolt could install a Catholic monarch – has become… Continue reading Ainsworth’s Guy Fawkes: Tragic Hero, Catholic Martyr

A Romance of Pendle Forest: The Lancashire Witches by W.H. Ainsworth (Part One)

Barbara Steele

The Lancashire Novelist Largely because of a popular fascination with the occult, The Lancashire Witches is the only one of Ainsworth’s novels to have remained consistently in print to this day, often shelved alongside the work of Dennis Wheatley and Montague Summers (both of whom it undoubtedly influenced). The novel is also one of the… Continue reading A Romance of Pendle Forest: The Lancashire Witches by W.H. Ainsworth (Part One)

A Romance of Pendle Forest: The Lancashire Witches by W.H. Ainsworth (Part Two)

Barabara Steele

The Mark of Satan The heart of all good witchcraft stories is the compact with the Devil, the model for which is concisely provided by the Inquisitors Sprenger and Kramer in their Malleus Maleficarum: Now the method of profession is twofold. One is a solemn ceremony, like a solemn vow. The other is private, and… Continue reading A Romance of Pendle Forest: The Lancashire Witches by W.H. Ainsworth (Part Two)

Finding Jack Vincent

A London Street Scene

As a child growing up in the 1970s, I possessed a passion for morbid nineteenth century popular literature. I had inherited this trait from my mother, a Catholic turned Spiritualist with a taste for gothic film and fiction. I was thus always dimly aware of the name ‘Jack Vincent’ through the cheap paperback anthologies of… Continue reading Finding Jack Vincent

Shark Alley: The Memoirs of a Penny-a-Liner

Shark Alley detail

Adrift in the Atlantic with a scheming Tory MP. Surrounded by sharks. Low on booze... ‘I can fancy a future Author taking for his story the glorious action off Cape Danger, when, striking only to the Powers above, the Birkenhead went down; and when, with heroic courage and endurance, the men kept to their duty… Continue reading Shark Alley: The Memoirs of a Penny-a-Liner

William Harrison Ainsworth: A Contextual Chronology

1805 – William Harrison Ainsworth born in Manchester, February 4, the first child of Thomas Ainsworth, solicitor, and Ann Harrison. 1806 – Birth of brother, Thomas Gilbert Ainsworth, October 4 (destined for a long life of mental illness). 1807 – British slave trade abolished by Act of Parliament. 1812 – Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. 1814… Continue reading William Harrison Ainsworth: A Contextual Chronology