Fate sits on these dark battlements and
And as the portal opens to receive me,
A voice in hollow murmurs through the courts
Tells of a nameless deed.
-- from The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
Born the year Walpole's Castle of Otranto
was published, Ann grew up writing romances, reading Shakespeare,
and enjoying music and nature. In 1787, she married William
Radcliffe, the editor and proprietor of the English Chronicle.
Ann Radcliffe anonymously published The Castles of Athlin
and Dunbayne (1789), her first recognized Gothic work.
In 1790, she published A Sicilian Romance. By now
it was appropriate to include her name on her publications.
The next three works, The Romance of the Forest (1791),
The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), and The Italian
(1797). These were all exceedingly popular and successful
novels. Her posthumous works include Gaston de Blondeville
(1826) and St. Alban's Abbey (1826). Before her
death, she published a volume of poems, Poems (1816).
Her taste for wild scenery as a child emerged in her writing.
Influenced by Walpole and Clara Reeve, Radcliffe nevertheless
created a new sense of Gothic literature. Suspense, horror,
romantic love, impossible situations and drama, a rich hero
and a rich, sensitive heroine, a greedy villain-these could
constitute for a modern-day soap-opera. Mrs. Radcliffe's
talent lied in her ability to create an appropriate ambiance.
However, her characters were somewhat unreal. Despite her
shortcomings, Mrs. Radcliffe's work is worthy of satire
and glory, inspiring Sir Walter Scott, Jane Austen, Washington
Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens,
and many more.
The Castles of Athlin and
A Sicilian Romance (1790)
The Romance of the Forest (1791)
The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
The Italian (1797)
Gaston de Blondeville (1826)
St. Alban's Abbey (1826)
Noyes, Russell. English
Romantic Poetry and Prose. New York: Oxford University