AINSWORTH, W. Harrison. ~ Jack Sheppard. A Romance... A new Edition. London: [T. Brettell for] Richard Bentley, 1840.
8vo (205 × 124 mm), pp. vii, , 480, engraved portrait and 27 plates by George Cruikshank. Some foxing to plates, as usual. Nineteenth-century half calf, gilt. A very good copy.
Second edition (The first edition had appeared the previous year, with the same plates, as three consecutive volumes in Bentley’s Miscellany). ‘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).