London: Bentley, 1839. First edition. Finely bound in half morocco over marbled boards by Stikeman & Co. Top edges brightly gilt. Marbled endpapers. Corners gently bumped and faint offsetting to several of the boards. Text blocks tight and square. In all a neat and pleasing copy. Small booksellers' descriptions tipped into the preliminaries of volume I. Bound without half titles in volumes I-II but present in volume III. Without the two page publisher's advertisement before the frontis of volume I as called for by Sadleir and Wolfe. Illustrated by George Cruikshank, this copy additionally includes an original sketch of the plate that appears in volume III page 82 signed by Cruikshank as well as an Autograph Letter Signed by the author inviting Maclise to dine with Dickens and Forster.
"The first sign of Jack Sheppard comes from a letter written to James Crossley in 1837: 'I think you will be glad to hear that I propose visiting Manchester for a few days next week, when I hope to spend some pleasant hours with you...I want to consult you about my new romance which is a tale of the reign of George the first -- and as that monarch cuts a conspicuous figure in the story, I shall really be thankful if you can lend me any memoirs, or other matter relating to him, or put me in the way of finding them...It is my intention to introduce Jack Sheppard" (Carver). Divided into three epochs with time compressed as in a three-act play, Ainsworth's novel traces the entangled stories of two apprentices, Thames Darrell and Jack Sheppard. With fluid movement between the two stories, Ainsworth follows the two as they grow from boys to men, falling from grace and into criminality that leads ultimately to incarceration and Jack Sheppard's execution. "From the outset, Jack Sheppard was a great success" (Carver). The present is a beautifully rendered copy of the novel, with autographs from both the illustrator and author included. Near Fine (Item #2824)