Bentleys Miscellany was an illustrated monthly magazine published from 1837 until 1868, founded by the publisher Richard Bentley, who had initially intended it to be called the Wits’ Miscellany. Under the editorship of Charles Dickens, who contributed Oliver Twist to early editions, the magazine was an immediate success; Dickens’s relationship with Bentley was apparently not altogether cordial, as he subsequently referred to him as the “Burlington Street Brigand”.
William Harrison AinsworthWilliam Harrison Ainsworth (1805–1882) was an English historical novelist, at one time considered a rival to Charles Dickens. took over as editor in 1839, and his serialisation of Jack Sheppard proved to be even more popular than Oliver Twist had been; during Ainsworth’s tenure the magazine’s circulation reached almost 10,000. Another of the magazine’s attractions was the illustrations by George Cruikshank, who also illustrated both Oliver Twist and Jack Sheppard when they appeared in novel form.
Ainsworth left Bentley’s at the end of 1841 to begin his own publication, Ainsworth’s Magazine. Richard Bentley then took over the editorship himself, presiding over a decline in quality such that by the mid-1840s it was “a shadow of its original self”. Ainsworth returned to the magazine in 1854 as its proprietor, having purchased it for £1700. George Bentley, Richard’s son, repurchased Bentley’s in 1868, merging it with the Temple Bar magazine.