Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Novelist Ann Radcliffe was born - 1764

English author Ann Radcliffe (nee Ann Ward) was born on July 9, 1764 in London and was a pioneer of the Gothic novel. She married William Radcliffe, an editor for the English Chronicle, at Bath in 1788. To amuse herself, she began to write fiction, an avocation her husband encouraged. She published The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne in 1789. This set the tone for the majority of her work, which tended to involve innocent, but heroic young women who find themselves in gloomy, mysterious castles ruled by even more mysterious barons with dark pasts. Her works were extremely popular, especially with respectably sheltered young women. Her other famous works included The Sicilian Romance (1790), The Romance of the Forest (1791), The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), and The Italian (1796). The success of The Romance of the Forest established Radcliffe as the leading exponent of the historical Gothic romance. Her later novels met with even greater attention, and produced many imitators. She died on February 7, 1823, from what is believed to have been an asthma attack. At the time of her death there were rumors that she might also have gone insane. 

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Literary Legends of the British Isles. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:

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