Forgotten Author Who Once Outsold the Literary Giant – Interview

What the Dickens?

Sunday Post interview with yours truly about The Author Who Outsold Dickens with Sally McDonald

William Harrison Ainsworth is the 19th-Century writer most of us haven’t heard of.

Literary historian, editor and novelist Dr Stephen Carver tells Sally McDonald The Honest Truth about why the great man is so unknown nowadays.


Why did you write this book?

A long-held desire to get Ainsworth back into British literary history. I love his work and have a bit of a hobbyhorse about unjustly neglected or forgotten 19th-Century authors. From costume drama and the heritage industry, you’d think no one was active except Austen, Dickens and Charlotte Brontë. I’m sure viewers and readers would respond to his stories if they had access.

Did he and Dickens know one another in life and were they rivals?

When Ainsworth’s star rose, Dickens was still a struggling journalist. He looked up to Ainsworth as the ideal of a successful author, and even affected a similarly dandyish style. Ainsworth admired Dickens and invited him to his exclusive literary soirees.

It was here that Dickens met his first publisher, John Macrone, his illustrator, George Cruikshank, and his best friend and biographer, John Forster.

After The Pickwick Papers, Dickens was outdistancing Ainsworth in success. Both commanded equal sales…

To read the complete interview please click here – thank you 🙂

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