WILLIAM HARRISON AINSWORTH (elder son of Thomas Ainsworth of Manchester, solicitor 1778-1824, by Ann Harrison 1778-1842 eld. dau. of Rev. Ralph Harrison of Manchester, Presbyterian minister). b. King st. Manchester 4 Feb. 1805; ed. at the free gr. sch. 1817-22; articled 1821 to Alexander Kay at Manchester, solicitor; a publisher in London 1826-27; edited Bentley's Miscellany, March 1839 to Dec. 1841; author of Jack Sheppard, 3 vols. 1839 which was produced in dramatic form simultaneously, at Adelphi, Queen's, Sadler's Wells, Victoria and Pavilion theatres in London, Oct. 1839; received £1000 from the Sunday Times for "Old St. Paul's" 1841, and another £1000 for the "Lancashire Witches" 1848; edited Ainsworth's Magazine, Feb. 1842 to 1854; purchased New monthly magazine from Henry Colburn 1845; purchased Bentley's Miscellany 1854 and combined with it Ainsworth's Magazine, Jany. 1855; gave the flitch of bacon at Dunmow in Essex 19 July 1855 and 25 July 1857; granted a civil list pension of £100 a year 10 Dec. 1868; entertained at a banquet in the town hall, Manchester by the mayor, Thomas Baker 15 Sep. 1881; lived at the Elms, Kilburn; at Kensal manor house; at Brighton; at Tunbridge Wells; at Reigate. (m. 11 Oct. 1826 Anne Frances younger dau. of John Ebers of John st. London, publisher, she d. 6 March 1838). d. St. Mary's road, Reigate 3 Jany. 1882. bur. Kensal Green cemetery 9 Jany. Manchester quarterly, i, 136-55 (1882) portrait; Maclise portrait gallery (1883) 256-62, portrait; J. H. Friswell's Modern men of letters (1870) 257-72; Illustrated Review ii, 321-23 (1872) portrait; Horne's New spirit of the age, ii, 215-22 (1844).
NOTE. — His novel Mervyn Clitheroe is autobiographical; in March 1878 he presented a life size portrait of himself, painted by H. W. Pickersgill, about 1841 to the Chetham Library Manchester; the best portrait of him is the figure in the vignette by Cruikshank, which forms the standing title to monthly editorial gossip in early numbers of Ainsworth's magazine. He was caricatured unmercifully by Thackeray in Punch. His books and the MSS. of 18 of his novels were sold by Sotheby in London for £463. 21-22 Aug. 1882. He was the author of upwards of 40 works of fiction.