The history of Jack Connor
by William Chaigneau
Ian Campbell Ross, editor
The history of Jack Connor (1752) is the only, and once very popular, novel of the Irish writer of Huguenot descent, William Chaigneau (1709–81). An example of sentimental picaresque fiction in the manner of Alain-René Lesage’s Gil Blas (1715–47) and Tobias Smollett’s Roderick Random (1748), the work also reveals Chaigneau’s admiration for Henry Fielding’s then-controversial Tom Jones (1749). The entertaining wanderings of Jack Connor take him from his birth and childhood in an Ireland described in unusual detail, through London, Paris, Flanders and Spain, before returning him to the Co. Limerick of his birth. Describing the novel as a ‘truly moral tale’, the London Monthly Review (1747) acknowledged the justice of the author’s ‘smart reprisals upon the English, for their national and vulgar prejudice against their brethren of Ireland’.
Ian Campbell Ross was formerly Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies at Trinity College Dublin; he has co-edited three titles for the Early Irish Fiction series.