Guy Fawkes in Manchester: The World of William Harrison Ainsworth


By Stephen Collins, published 1st December 2005

Some of the most enduring myths in British history were created and perpetuated by novelists, despite the fact that the historical novel has long been relegated to the second division of the literary arts. Deeply unfashionable today, writers like Sir Walter Scott, Edward Bulwer Lytton and William Harrison Ainsworth were responsible for placing some of the most memorable historical legends in the public psyche. Without Ainsworth, stories like Dick Turpin's ride to York on Black Bess, and the tale of the Newgate escapologist Jack Sheppard would not have their place in the national collection of folklore. But their author has been largely forgotten. The reputation of Ainsworth now rests in a regional interest, and many of his stories were based on, or contained elements of, his roots in the north-west of England.

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