Barnaby Rudge was part of a proposed series by Dickens originating in 1840 known as Master Humphrey’s Clock. This was intended as a miscellany with a continuous narrative linked with the memories of Master Humphries. Only The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge were written for this weekly before Dickens abandoned it in 1841 when the latter was published. It is also one of Dickens’ two historical novels (the other being A Tale of Two Cities), this one set in the anti-popery riots of 1780 and with the genuine historical personage of Lord George Gordon appearing in the course of the story. The novel concerns the murder of Reuben Haredale. His Roman Catholic brother Geoffrey and the villainous Sir John Chester despite their hatred for one another conspire to prevent their younger family (niece and son respectively) from marrying. During the Gordon riots, Haredale’s house is burned and his niece Emma is carried off - the outcome being Chester’s son’s rescue of the Haredales and his winning of the right to marry Emma. We learn later who the murderer of Reuben was and of the half-wit Barnaby Rudge who is later to be hanged but gains reprieve despite his part in the riots. The riots themselves form the focal point for the novel and are its main concern, although as ever in Dickens there is a large cast of interesting characters: notably the hangman Dennis and the coquettish Dolly Varden.