Harrison Ainsworth Rookwood and Jack Sheppard

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Essay Database > Literature > English
In the early nineteenth century, an interest in criminals and the common highwayman arose in Europe. Many magazines in London, such as Bentley’s Miscellany, Fraser’s Magazine, and The Athenaeum featured sections that were reserved for stories about highwayman and their numerous adventures. The growing interest in the subject inspired many authors to write about the various exploits of popular criminals and highwayman. Some prominent examples of this type of novel were Edward Bulwer’…

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…enthusiasm for these types of novels is a matter for wonder. Ainsworth’s novels had, it is true, the elements to make a popular success: a spotless hero and an underdog to sympathize with, both pitted against a fearful villain; a glimpse of aristocracy, a suggestion of sex, hairbreadth adventures, and plenty of virtuous emotions (Hollingsworth, 1963, p. 140). Rookwood and Jack Sheppard are prime examples of the ‘criminal’ theme that was popular in the early nineteenth