Rookwood, a novel by W H Ainsworth


Rookwood was a popular and financially successful 'Newgate novel' by William Harrison Ainsworth. It featured a dashing, charismatic Dick Turpin, the real-life highwayman, and a sentimental death scene for Black Bess, his horse, that famously set readers weeping. First published in 1834, this copy is a fourth edition from 1836 with new illustrations by George Cruikshank. 

Rookwood was one of the novels that Ainsworth instructed the young Charles Dickens to study. Ainsworth befriended Dickens, age 22, and helped to 'groom' him for literary success. Philip Horne speculates that Rookwood’s frequency of 'cant' language is possibly an influence on Dickens's own use of it in Oliver Twist; the two novels feature many of the same ‘cant’ words. An example of Rookwood's use of 'cant' is shown on the pages here.

Full title:
Rookwood; The fourth edition
1836, London
Book / Illustration / Image
W H Ainsworth, George Cruikshank [illustrator]
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

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