William Harrison Ainsworth (4 February 1805 – 3 January 1882) was an English historical novelist born in Manchester. He trained as a lawyer, but the legal profession held no attraction for him. While completing his legal studies in London he met the publisher John Ebers, at that time manager of the King's Theatre, Haymarket. Ebers introduced Ainsworth to literary and dramatic circles, and to his daughter, who became Ainsworth's wife.
Ainsworth briefly tried the publishing business, but soon gave it up and devoted himself to journalism and literature. His first success as a writer came with Rookwood in 1834, which features Dick Turpin as its leading character. A stream of 39 novels followed, the last of which appeared in 1881. Ainsworth died in Reigate on 3 January 1882.
The occupants of the oak breathed again after the departure of Colonel James and his troopers, and though they had been greatly alarmed at the time, they soon recovered their spirits, and laughed at the incident. "Perhaps the excitement was a little too great;" observed Charles; "but it has served to break the monotony of our somewhat dull existence. Time, it must be owned, passes very slowly when one is compelled, like the fowls of the air, to roost in a tree. I hope we shall soon have another visit from our faithful William Penderel."
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