Ann Radcliffe

Ann Radcliffe books and biography

Ann Radcliffe

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Ann Radcliffe (July 9, 1764 - February 7, 1823) was an English author, a pioneer of the gothic novel.



She was born Ann Ward in Holborn, London, England, Kingdom of Great Britain. She married William Radcliffe, an editor for the English Chronicle, at Bath in 1788. The couple were childless. To amuse herself, she began to write fiction, which her husband encouraged.

She published The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne in 1789. It 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 among the upper class and the growing middle class, especially among young women. Her 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, and famously, Jane Austen's burlesque of The Mysteries of Udolpho in Northanger Abbey, as well as influencing the works of Sir Walter Scott and Mary Wollstonecraft (Writer of Philosophy).

Stylistically, Radcliffe was noted for her vivid descriptions of exotic locales, though in reality the author had rarely or never visited the actual locations.

She died on February 7, 1823 from respiratory problems probably caused by pneumonia.

Her own view of her work and time appeared in 1826 under the title "On the Supernatural in Poetry", by the late Mrs Ann Radcliffe.

Radcliffe's influence on later writers

  • Jane Austen
  • William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Sir Walter Scott
  • William Wordsworth
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • John Keats
  • Lord Byron
  • Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit (1855-7)
  • Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White (1860)
  • The Bronts
    • Charlotte Bront's Jane Eyre (1847)
  • Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (1938)
  • Witold Gombrowicz's Possessed, or The Secret of Myslotch: A Gothic Novel (1939)
  • Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Oval Portrait" drew from Udolpho and mentions Radcliffe by name (somewhat disparagingly) in the introduction.
  • Paul Fval, pre who used her as his protagonist in the novel La Ville Vampire (translated as Vampire City [1]

Publications include

  • The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1 volume), 1789, gothic novel. ISBN 0-19-282357-4
  • A Sicilian Romance (2 vols.) 1790, gothic novel. ISBN 0-19-283666-8
  • The Romance of the Forest (3 vols.) 1791, gothic novel. ISBN 0-19-283713-3
  • The Mysteries of Udolpho (4 vols.) 1794. ISBN 0-19-282523-2
  • The Italian (3 vols.) 1797. ISBN 0-14-043754-1
  • Gaston de Blondeville (4 vols.) 1826, reprinted in 2006 by Valancourt Books ISBN 0-9777841-0-X

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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Castles Of Athlin And Dunbayne


Romance Of The Forest

Sicillian Romance

The Mysteries Of Udolpho

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