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Ann Radcliffe, Pioneer of the Gothic Novel


Today would be the 244th birthday of Ann Radcliffe. To learn more about her life, please read an excerpt of an article below.

By Ruth Facer

Ann Radcliffe will always be remembered as the great exponent of Gothic fiction. Though Jane Austen would parody her novels in Northanger Abbey (1818), Radcliffe’s wild, often bleak, landscapes, dark threatening men, and gothic mysteries lived on in the works of Keats, Mary Shelley, the Brontes, Dickens, and Bram Stoker and many others.

Contemporary readers and modern day critics have variously dubbed Radcliffe the ‘Mistress of Udolpho’, ‘The Great Enchantress’, and the ‘Mother of the Gothic’, but these are misleadingly exotic titles to bestow upon such a private person with such a prosaic life history. According to The Edinburgh Review (May 1823), ‘She never appeared in public, nor mingled in private society, but kept herself apart, like the sweet bird that sings its solitary notes, shrouded and unseen’. In fact, so little was known about Radcliffe’s life in the nineteenth century that Christina Rossetti abandoned a projected biography due to a lack of material.

To read the complete article, please click here [1].

To learn more about this highly influential author, please click here [2] for a complete bibliography.