Ann Radcliffe was one of the first writers in the Gothic genre. She wrote several popular Gothic novels but inexplicably stopped writing in that style at the age of 32. Her novels include The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1789), A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Romance of the Forest (1792), The Mysteries of Udolpho: A Romance (1794), The Italian: or, The Confessional of the Black Penitents (1797), and Gaston de Blondeville: or, The Court of Henry III (1826).

Not much is known about Radcliffe’s life. 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.” She had few friends, did not write many letters, and the only journal she kept was on her travels. Her first full-scale biography was the ingeniously researched Mistress of Udolpho: The Life of Ann Radcliffe (1999), by Rictor Norton. This book was based on an exploration of the world Radcliffe lived in, information from remote archives, and careful analysis of her works and the reviews thereof.

Read the complete column: Ann Radcliffe

[tags]Ann Radcliffe, Ron Breznay’s The Old Masters of Horror[/tags]

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