Man of La Manchester

It's been a long time coming, but my new biography of the 'Lancashire Novelist' William Harrison Ainsworth, The Author Who Outsold Dickens is published in hardback today from Pen & Sword Books. Here's the Prologue... On the evening of Thursday, 15 September 1881, the man they called the ‘Lancashire Novelist’ attended a mayoral banquet in his… Continue reading Man of La Manchester

A Christmas Carol 2019 – Review

My latest for the Wordsworth Blog... Well, here we are again. With the festive season comes a slew of costume dramas and literary adaptations from the BBC, most prominent among them new versions of A Christmas Carol and Dracula, hot on the heels of The War of the Worlds. This winter, dark Victorian fantasy rules,… Continue reading A Christmas Carol 2019 – Review

London Labour and the London Poor

New post for the Wordsworth Blog The sums involved in printer George Woodfall’s chancery suit against Henry Mayhew that killed off London Labour and the London Poor mid-flow were trivial. He made several attempts to arrive at a settlement, but Mayhew ignored him. This was a common pattern of behaviour in Mayhew’s life, going back… Continue reading London Labour and the London Poor

G.W.M. Reynolds & Me

A new post for the G.W.M. Reynolds Society... As a child, I possessed a morbid passion for nineteenth century gothic literature. I had inherited this trait from my mother, a Catholic turned Spiritualist with a taste for true crime and horror film and fiction. My parents had me late in life and my grandparents were… Continue reading G.W.M. Reynolds & Me

Forthcoming: The Author Who Outsold Dickens

THE AUTHOR WHO OUTSOLD DICKENS: The Life and Work of W.H. Ainsworth By Stephen Carver Published by Pen & Sword History, Forthcoming: Winter 2019/20… Now available for pre-order William Harrison Ainsworth (1805 – 1882) is probably the most successful 19th Century writer that most people haven’t heard of. Journalist, essayist, poet and, most of all,… Continue reading Forthcoming: The Author Who Outsold Dickens

The Pornographer Royal

I was interviewed by Southwark News this week, talking about Henry Spencer Ashbee, Victorian businessman and erotomaniac... There are quite a few unusual things about Henry Spencer Ashbee, a Victorian gentleman who was born in the Rising Sun inn on Blackfriars Road in 1834. He was a self-made man and an only child in an… Continue reading The Pornographer Royal

Looking into Hell: Kipling and the Great War

Guest post for Wordsworth Editions... During a visit in the winter of 1918, Rider Haggard – who believed in reincarnation – asked Rudyard Kipling if he thought the earth was one of the hells. His old friend replied that he did not think this, he was certain of it (qtd. in Wilson: 1994, 306). And… Continue reading Looking into Hell: Kipling and the Great War

The Dark Places of the Earth

Caine and Connery

Guest piece for Wordsworth Editions. In ‘The Man Who Would Be King,’ Rudyard Kipling described the Native States of India as, ‘the dark places of the earth, full of unimaginable cruelty, touching the Railway and the Telegraph on one side, and, on the other, the days of Harun-al-Raschid’ (Kipling: 1890, 69). In this allegory of… Continue reading The Dark Places of the Earth

A Chronology of the Other 19th Century

The War of the Worlds

A bit of fun... 1804 – Death of Natty Bumppo (AKA 'Hawkeye') on the American frontier, aged eighty. 1805 – Omegarus, the spirit of the last man born in the far future before humanity becomes sterile, appears to Jean-Baptiste Cousin de Grainvilleis in a cave in Syria with a vision of the end of the world. 1811 –… Continue reading A Chronology of the Other 19th Century

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