On the retirement of Ainsworth from Bentley’s Miscellany, business relations were resumed between himself [Ainsworth] and the artist; and Cruikshank was advertised as illustrator of Ainsworth’s Magazine. And at this point Cruikshank passed from his humorous to his more ambitious and higher phase. [Jerrold, Vol. I, Ch. IX]

“On my return I was induced by my friend Mr. Pettigrew to engage George Cruikshank as the illustrator of the magazine, on terms infinitely more advantageous to the artist than those he had received from Mr. Bentley for his illustrations to Jack Sheppard​ and Guy Fawkes.”

These terms seemed to state how Cruikshank collaborated with authors. According to Richard Bentley's arbitrary revision of his contract with Cruikshank, Ainsworth would not necessarily have consulted with the illustrator, who the proprietor now expected to read the novel and propose his own subjects. In other respects, however, Ainsworth approached the publication of the 1840-41 historical romance Guy Fawkes, or The Gunpowder Treason as he had previous novels written for Bentley: he distributed the book in monthly parts for serial publication in the high-volume monthly literary journal Bentley's Miscellany, the editorship of which he had assumed after Charles Dickens left the post in February 1839 after two years of quarrelling with the publisher over editorial control. In January 1840, Ainsworth was still running instalments of the vastly popular rogue novel Jack Sheppard, which Cruikshank also illustrated in period idiom in fourteen monthly parts, each accompanied by two steel engravings. As Ainsworth was winding the novel up in Bentley's, he began publishing another period piece — this time, a "romance" set in the politically unstable years of the early seventeenth century when James I succeeded Elizabeth. Whereas he usually timed volume publication for the Christmas book market, with Guy Fawkes Ainsworth brought out the triple-decker volume edition somewhat earlier — at the same time as the nineteenth monthly number had appeared (July 1841) in Bentley's. Already in Guy Fawkes, as Blanchard Jerrold remarked in his biography, one can readily see Cruikshank's passing "from his humorous to his more ambitious and higher phase" — employing far less caricature and treating his subjects with the high seriousness of an historical painter. Cruikshank's having to depart from his usual method of composition in Guy Fawkes shows that, perhaps for the first time in his relationship with Bentley's, he was thrown upon his own resources without the benefit of a preliminary communication with the author. — Philip V. Allingham

The Cruikshank Steel-engravings, January 1840 through November 1841

[••• = online; others will be available as author continues this project.]

Related Materials


"Ainsworth, William Harrison." http://biography.com [accessed 18 December 2017]

Ainsworth, William Harrison. Guy Fawkes or The Gunpowder Treason: An Historical Romance. With 22 illustrations by George Cruikshank. London: Cunningham & Mortimer, 1841 (first edition). Rpt., London: George Routledge & Sons, n. d.

Burton, Anthony. "Cruikshank as an Illustrator of Fiction." George Cruikshank: A Revaluation. Ed. Robert L. Patten. Princeton: Princeton U. P., 1974, rev., 1992. Pp. 92-128.

Carver, Stephen. Ainsworth and Friends: Essays on 19th Century Literature & The Gothic. Accessed 1 October 2017. https://ainsworthandfriends.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/william-harrison-ainsworth-the-life-and-adventures-of-the-lancashire-novelist/

Chesson, Wilfred Hugh. George Cruikshank. The Popular Library of Art. London: Duckworth, 1908.

Golden, Catherine J. "Ainsworth, William Harrison (1805-1882)." Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia, ed. Sally Mitchell. New York and London: Garland, 1988. Page 14.

Jerrold, Blanchard. Chapter 9, "Illustrations to Harrison Ainsworth's Romances." The Life of George Cruikshank. In Two Epochs. Illustrated by George Cruikshank. London: Chatto and Windus, 1882. Volume One.

Johnson, E. D. H. "The George Cruikshank Collection at Princeton." George Cruikshank: A Revaluation. Ed. Robert L. Patten. Princeton: Princeton U. P., 1974, rev., 1992. Pp. 1-34.

Kelly, Patrick. "William Harrison Ainsworth." Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 21, "Victorian Novelists Before 1885," ed. Ira Bruce Nadel and William E. Fredeman. Detroit: Gale Research, 1983. Pp. 3-9.

McLean, Ruari. George Cruikshank: His Life and Work as a Book Illustrator. English Masters of Black-and-White. London: Art and Technics, 1948.

Patten, Robert L. Chapter 30, "The 'Hoc' Goes Down." George Cruikshank's Life, Times, and Art, vol. 2: 1835-1878. Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers U. P., 1991; London: The Lutterworth Press, 1996. Pp. 153-186.

Vogler, Richard A. "Cruikshank and Dickens: A Reassessment of the Role of the Artist and the Author." George Cruikshank: A Revaluation. Ed. Robert L. Patten. Princeton: Princeton U. P., 1974, rev., 1992. Pp. 61-92.

Worth, George J. William Harrison Ainsworth. New York: Twayne, 1972.

Vann, J. Don. "Guy Fawkes in Bentley's Miscellany, January 1840-Noevmber 18401." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: MLA, 1985. P. 20.

Last modified 30 August 2018