Rookwood A Romance by William Harrison Ainsworth

Rookwood A Romance

byWilliam Harrison Ainsworth

Kobo ebook | June 5, 2013

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"Sir John Chiverton" appeared in 1826, and for forty years was regarded as one of his early works; but Mr. John Partington Aston has also claimed to be its author. In all probability, both of these young men joined in the production of the novel which attracted the attention of Sir Walter Scott. On the death of his father, in 1824, Ainsworth went to London to finish his legal education, but whatever intentions he may have formed of humdrum study and determined attention to the details of a profession in which he had no interest, were dissipated by contact with the literary world of the metropolis.

He made the acquaintance of Mr. John Ebers, who at that time combined the duties of manager of the Opera House with the business of a publisher. He it was who issued "Sir John Chiverton," and the verses forming its dedication are understood to have been addressed to Anne Frances ("Fanny") Ebers, whom Ainsworth married October 11, 1826. Ainsworth had then to decide upon a career, and, acting upon the suggestion of Ebers, his father-in-law, he began business as a publisher; but after an experience of about eighteen months he abandoned it. In this brief interval he introduced the Hon. Mrs. Norton, and Ude, the cook, to the discerning though unequal admiration of the British public. He was introduced to Sir Walter Scott, who wrote the "Bonnets of Bonnie Dundee" for an annual issued by him. Ainsworth gave him twenty guineas for it, which Sir Walter accepted, but laughingly handed over to the little daughter of Lockhart, in whose London house they had met.

Ainsworth's literary aspirations still burned with undiminished ardor, and several plans were formed only to be abandoned, and when, in the summer of 1830, he visited Switzerland and Italy, he was as far as ever from the fulfilment of his desires. In 1831 he visited Chesterfield and began the novel of "Rookwood," in which he successfully applied the method of Mrs. Radcliffe to English scenes and characters. The finest passage is that relating Turpin's ride to York, which is a marvel of descriptive writing. It was written, apparently in a glow of inspiration, in less than a day and a half. "The feat," he says, "for feat it was, being the composition of a hundred novel pages in less than twenty-four hours, was achieved at 'The Elms,' a house I then occupied at Kilburn." The success of "Rookwood" was marked and immediate. Ainsworth at a bound reached popularity. This was in 1834, and in 1837 he published "Crichton," which is a fine piece of historical romance. The critics who had objected to the romantic glamor cast over the career of Dick Turpin were still further horrified at the manner in which that vulgar rascal, Jack Sheppard, was elevated into a hero of romance. The outcry was not entirely without justification, nor was it without effect on the novelist, who thenceforward avoided this perilous ground. "Jack Sheppard" appeared in Bentley's Miscellany, of which Ainsworth became editor in March, 1840, at a monthly salary of £51.

The story is powerfully written. In 1841 he received £1000 from the Sunday Times for "Old St. Paul's," and he, in 1848, had from the same source another £1000 for the "Lancashire Witches." In 1841 he began the publication of Ainsworth's Magazine, which came to an end in 1853, when he acquired the New Monthly Magazine, which he edited for many years. This was the heyday of Ainsworth's reputation alike in literature and in society.

Title:Rookwood A RomanceFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:June 5, 2013Publisher:WDS PublishingLanguage:English

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