The Book of Stone: Ainsworth’s Gothic History of England

In 1840 William Harrison Ainsworth, the author of the infamous Jack Sheppard, emerged from the storm of the ‘Newgate Controversy’ with his critical reputation in tatters and his public popularity soaring. Outraged at being included in the ‘Newgate School,’ Dickens had quickly dissociated himself from his close friend Ainsworth and it was commonly believed that… Continue reading The Book of Stone: Ainsworth’s Gothic History of England

The ‘Design of Romance’: Rookwood, Scott and the Gothic

In a preface added to Rookwood for the edition of 1849, Ainsworth describes in some detail the construction of his famous romance (1). Like his first novel Sir John Chiverton (1826, written in collaboration with J.P. Aston), the inspiration for Rookwood came initially from the gothic charge which the author associated with an ancient building:… Continue reading The ‘Design of Romance’: Rookwood, Scott and the Gothic