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Gothic romance,type of novel that flourished in the late 18th and early 19th cent. in England. Gothic romances were mysteries, often involving the supernatural and heavily tinged with horror, and they were usually set against dark backgrounds of medieval ruins and haunted castles. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole was the forerunner of the type, which included the works of Ann RadcliffeRadcliffe, Ann (Ward),
1764–1823, English novelist, b. London. The daughter of a successful tradesman, she married William Radcliffe, a law student who later became editor of the English Chronicle.
..... Click the link for more information. , Matthew Gregory LewisLewis, Matthew Gregory,
1775–1818, English author, b. London. In addition to his writing he pursued a diplomatic career and served for a time in Parliament. He was often called "Monk" Lewis from the title of his extravagant Gothic romance The Monk
..... Click the link for more information. , and Charles R. MaturinMaturin, Charles Robert
, 1782–1824, Irish author. A minister by vocation, he wrote novels in the manner of the Gothic horror tale of Ann Ward Radcliffe. They include The Fatal Revenge (1807), The Milesian Chief (1812), and his masterpiece
..... Click the link for more information. , and the novel Frankenstein by Mary ShelleyShelley, Mary Wollstonecraft,
1797–1851, English author; daughter of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. In 1814 she fell in love with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, accompanied him abroad, and after the death of his first wife in 1816 married him.
..... Click the link for more information. . Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey satirizes Gothic romances. The influence of the genre can be found in some works of Coleridge, Le Fanu, Poe, and the Brontës. During the 1960s so-called Gothic novels became enormously popular in England and the United States. Seemingly modeled on Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, these novels usually concern spirited young women, either governesses or new brides, who go to live in large gloomy mansions populated by peculiar servants and precocious children and presided over by darkly handsome men with mysterious pasts. Popular practitioners of this genre are Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Catherine Cookson, and Dorothy Eden.
See studies by T. M. Harwell (4 vol., 1985) and D. P. Varma (1987).