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AINSWORTH, William Harrison.

Jack Sheppard.

A Romance. With Illustrations by George Cruikshank. In Three Volumes.

London: Richard Bentley, 1839 Stock Code: 118496
£1,250.00
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One of the most popular and polarising "Newgate" novels, with some of Cruikshank's best illustrative work

First edition of one of the most popular and polarising "Newgate" novels, accompanied by some of Cruikshank's best illustrative work. "Praised for its vivid writing, especially its depiction of a storm on the Thames and its account of Jack Sheppard's escape from Newgate prison, the novel became so popular that by the end of 1839 nine different theatrical versions of it had appeared on the London stage. One of these versions introduced the hit song of the season ('Nix my Dolly, Pals'), based on a 'flash song' of criminal slang that Ainsworth had written for Rookwood. But Jack Sheppard also provoked criticism. John Forster attacked it in The Examiner for glorifying criminals, William Makepeace Thackeray did the same in his novel Catherine, and there were even suggestions that the notorious murder committed by Courvoisier in 1840 had been inspired by a reading of Ainsworth's novel" (ODNB). Ainsworth and Cruikshank's collaborative relationship, which began with Ainsworth's first novel Rookwood (1836), would continue over the next decade as the popular illustrator provided wood-engraved and steel-etched plates for several more of Ainsworth's historical novels. It is considered some of Cruikshank's finest work: "he regularly honours Ainsworth with a careful minuteness and polish of execution he had accorded to no earlier author, certainly not Dickens. And the results of this prolonged careful devotion to 'effect' can be very fine in the richly dense gatherings of shadow, and the glimmerings and percolations of light that break out here and there in clear gleams" (Patten, p. 144).

Carrie Estelle Doheny's library in Camarillo, California "represented one of the rarest book libraries in the United States. Within the collection, 4,000 volumes were rare books and first editions. Fifteen hundred of the volumes were comprised of autograph letters and important historical and literary manuscripts. Early vellum manuscripts such as bibles, gospels, commentaries, liturgical works, and ornamented books revealed the prominence of the collection" (Cheung, p. 97).

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Description

3 volumes, octavo (200 x 123 mm). Original green cloth, spines lettered in gilt, spines and boards elaborately decorated in blind, edges uncut. Housed in a red morocco slipcase with cloth chemise, lettered, ruled, and decorated in gilt and black.

Illustrations

Engraved portrait frontispiece and 8 plates to volume I, 9 plates to volume II, 10 to volume III.

Condition

Bookplates of the American oil tycoon and philanthropist Edward Laurence Doheny (1856-1935) and his second wife, the rare book collector Carrie Estelle Doheny, to front pastedowns and free endpapers, bookseller's catalogue entry tipped-in to volume I front free endpaper. Bound without the 2 page publisher's advertisement before the frontispiece of volume I as called for by Sadleir and Wolfe. Spine ends and corners bruised, a few knocks to extremities, boards marked and spines a little faded, 2 hinges partly cracked but holding very firm, contents evenly lightly browned, a very good set.

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Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

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