Set against the backdrop of the Gordon Riots of 1780, Barnaby Rudge is a story of mystery and suspense which begins with an unsolved double murder and goes on to involve conspiracy, blackmail, abduction and retribution. Through the course of the novel fathers and sons become opposed, apprentices plot against their masters and Protestants clash with Catholics on the streets. And, as London erupts into riot, Barnaby Rudge himself struggles to escape the curse of his own past. With its dramatic descriptions of public violence and private horror, its strange secrets and ghostly doublings, Barnaby Rudge is a powerful, disturbing blend of historical realism and Gothic melodrama.
Charles Dickens (1812-70) was a political reporter and journalist before establishing his reputation as a novelist with PICKWICK PAPERS (1836-7). His novels captured and held the public imagination over a period of more than thirty years. John Bowen teaches English at the University of Keele. He has written widely on Charles Dickens and is the author of 'Other Dickens: Pickwick to Dombey' (OUP, 2000).