J.S Le Fanu & The Golden Age of the Ghost Story

Extract from new post for the Wordsworth Editions Blog… As the nights grow longer and colder and we move inexorably towards Halloween, the readerly mind turns naturally towards the ghost story. And while pumpkins are carved and displayed as an invitation to trick-or-treaters, let us not forget that their original purpose was to ward off the evil… Continue reading J.S Le Fanu & The Golden Age of the Ghost Story

The Time Machine

Extract from new post for the Wordsworth Editions Blog… There’s an elegant simplicity to the structure of The Time Machine, developed perfectly in a mere 35,000 words; like several of Wells’ iconic ‘scientific romances’, it is more novella than novel. In a tight framing narrative, an old friend of an unnamed, 40-year-old inventor referred to only as… Continue reading The Time Machine

Vanity Fair

New post for the Wordsworth Editions Blog… Sometime between 1845 and 1846, the literary journalist William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863) drafted a few short pieces entitled Pen and Pencil Sketches of English Society (illustrated by himself), which he hoped would constitute the opening chapters of an as yet unspecified longer work. ‘The truth forces itself upon me,’ he… Continue reading Vanity Fair

Treasure Island

Extract of a piece originally written for the Wordsworth Editions Blog... ...Although a recognised essayist and travel writer, Treasure Island was Stevenson’s first novel, discounting some unfinished juvenilia which he had burned. This was in the hope of making his craft pay, because, as he later wrote in ‘My First Book’: By that time I… Continue reading Treasure Island

Mary Barton

New entry for the Wordsworth Editions Blog... In 1848, Europe was experiencing the greatest upheaval since Napoleon. The year had begun with a revolution in the Two Sicilies; by February, the French had declared another republic and Marx and Engels had published the Communist Manifesto. By March, there were barricades in Berlin, riots in Sweden,… Continue reading Mary Barton

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

Goblin Stories and Haunted Men: Dickens’ Other Christmas Books

My latest for the Wordsworth Blog, on the stories that followed A Christmas Carol... As the fairy lights go up and we max out our credit cards, I think we can all agree that Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Consuming it in some form is as much of a tradition as… Continue reading Goblin Stories and Haunted Men: Dickens’ Other Christmas Books

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, January 2020 Now available from Pen & Sword here 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… Continue reading The Author Who Outsold Dickens

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

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