Blow the dust off the pages of history: The 1873 Press is pleased to bring you thousands of lost treasures from the golden age of historical fiction, from the early nineteenth century to the early twentieth century.

For as long as novels have been written, readers have thrilled to delve into the past through the pages of fiction. Usually appearing as serials in scores of publications, these tales were the popular entertainment of their time, much as television is today, crafted to lift their audience above their ordinary existence with exotic locales, heroic deeds, and driving narrative. Hundreds of authors, many of them still household names, learned their craft by mixing documented events, period details, and liberal measures of imagination. Napoleon and Josephine, Oliver Cromwell, Robespierre, Dick Turpin (the greatest highwayman of all time) — these and countless others, and the events that they shaped, emerged from history as full-blooded characters in stories of intrigue, crime, passion, and adventure, with motley supporting casts including swashbucklers, cavaliers, courtesans, dutiful servants and dedicated ministers.

Yet for more than a hundred years, most of these volumes have been unavailable - until now. The editors of the 1873 Press have assembled a unique collection, and, utilizing the newest publishing technology, have the privilege of offering these books to modern readers in a variety of printed and electronic formats at prices anyone can afford.

Now you can treasure your own copies of these long-lost works. Join us in relishing the stories of the exciting lives and struggles of famous, infamous, and barely remembered men and women.

Welcome to unforgettable reading.

William Harrison Ainsworth (1805-1882) was among the most popular novelists of the Victorian era. A brilliant student, he intended to join his father's prominent law firm until his ambition turned to publishing and literature — in particular the genre of historical fiction. His first novel, Sir John Chiverton, was published in 1826. After traveling in Europe in 1830, Ainsworth returned to England and began work on Rookwood (1834), based largely on the life of the notorious highwayman Dick Turpin. This 'Newgate' novel (referring to the prison) enjoyed extraordinary success and launched the author into London's highest social and literary circles. Strikingly handsome and rather dandified, Ainsworth counted Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, and William Wordsworth among his many friends.

A tireless writer and editor, Ainsworth produced thirty-nine novels, and directed and owned a succession of prominent literary journals, including Bentley's Miscellany, Ainsworth's Magazine, and the New Monthly Magazine. His historical novels, noted for their accuracy and pageantry, were usually first published in serial form, many of them illustrated by George Cruikshank and 'Phiz' (Hablot Knight Browne), both outstanding 19th century illustrators. Ainsworth took great care in reproducing historical settings, and his vigorous and pleasing style is punctuated with broad, farcical humor. His works give readers a true taste of the pleasures and conventions of the Victorian novel, and they will reward and satisfy those who seek an intimate look into England's past.

Published in three volumes anonymously in 1834 and under the author's name in many succeeding editions, Ainsworth's second novel was a great literary and commercial success that catapulted its author into celebrity. Ostensibly based on the criminal career of the notorious highwayman Dick Turpin (1705-1739), some critics have said that the story probably owes as much to the life of John (Swift Dick) Nevison. Ainsworth's thrilling account of Turpin's famous ride to York on his mare Black Bess is probably the greatest example of Ainsworth's skill both as a writer and as a writer of fiction—not only is it exciting but also pure invention, drawing, as the author acknowledged, on Yorkshire oral tradition. The novel is a glorious part of the romantic vision of the highwayman, as portrayed so often in ballads, poems, novels, and, of course, in films.

Read what the critics had to say about Rookwood

This is one of the most spirited and romantic of 'the season's' production. Full of life and fire, it excites the reader and carries him onward — much as the true heroine of the tale, the mare Black Bess, does the true hero of it, the ROBBER TURPIN — with mingled sensations of terror and delight. It is a wild story, told with exceeding skill, and wrought up to the highest pitch of which so singular a subject is capable. The book is an excellent one, and the author may take a high station among the romance authors of our time. — New Monthly Magazine.

Will have a RUN in the true Turpian style. — Fraser's Magazine.

This story never flags. — Quarterly Review.

Possesses great variety of talent. — Literary Gazette.

Exhibits great power and strong interest. — Morning Post.

Will be extensively read and admired. — Courier.

Will interest and amuse readers of every class. — New Sporting Magazine.

'By the powers! But it shall do, anyhow … You've bullied me long enough.'


A Romance By


Illustrated by Pierre le Touche

1873 Press

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