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Varieties of Female Gothic


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Varieties of Female Gothic is a major contribution to the recent developments in criticism centring on Romantic women's literature. It makes available a representative selection of the most important types of Female Gothic fiction. Most of the works included here are reset and have been out of print since they were first published.



Volume 1: Enlightenment Gothic and Terror Gothic

Clara Reeve, The Champion of Virtue: A Gothic Story (1777); Mary Butt (later Sherwood), The Traditions: A Legendary Tale (1795).

Reeve's novel was republished in 1778 as The Old English Baron. It was one of the earliest and most reprinted Female Gothic novels, appealing to reform-minded readers in Britain during the transition from classical republicanism and Enlightenment social critique, through revolutionary protest, to the development of patriotic liberal ideology. Sherwood's The Traditions is an extravaganza of Gothic elements, written by a schoolgirl who attended the same school as Jane and Cassandra Austen, who subscribed to the novel; Sherwood later became the most prolific writer of didactic children's fiction, often adapting Gothic elements.

Volume 2: Street Gothic - Female Gothic Chapbooks

Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Sir Bertrand's Adventures in a Ruinous Castle: The Story of Fitzalan: The Adventure James III of Scotland had with the weird sisters in the dreadful wood of Birnan: The Story of Raymond Castle: The Ruin of the House of Albert: And Mary, a Fragment (1800); Sophia Lee, The Recess: A Tale of Past Times; Charlotte Smith, Rayland Hall or, The Remarkable Adventures of Orlando Somerville: An original Story [The Old Manor House]; Ann Radcliffe, The Midnight Assassin: or, Confession of the Monk Rinaldi containing A Complete History of the Diabolical Machinations and unparelled [sic] Ferocity together with a circumstantial account of that scourge of mankind The Inquisition with their manner of bringing to trial those unfortunate beings who are under their clutches [The Italian]; The Southern Tower: or, Conjugal Sacrifice and Retribution [A Sicilian Romance]; Sarah Wilkinson, The Spectres of Lord Oswald and Lady Rosa, Including an Account of the Marchioness of Civetti, who was basely consigned to a Dungeon beneath her Castle by her eldest Son, whose cruel Avarices plunged him into the Commission of the worst of Crimes, that stain the Annuals of the Human Race: An Original Romantic Tale (1814); The White Pilgrim; or, Castle of Olival: An interesting and affecting tale, founded on singular facts translated from the popular French novel, Le Pelerin Blanc (n.d.); The White Cottage of the Valley; or, The Mysterious Husband: An Original, Interesting Romance (n.d.).

This volume presents a range of cheap Gothic novelettes written by women or adapted from full-length Gothic novels by women; these chapbooks were designed and marketed for lower-class and lower middle-class readers, often sold in the street by hawkers, and also kept in public houses for the entertainment of drinkers.

Volume 3: Erotic Gothic

Charlotte Dacre, The Libertine (1807)

Like Dacre's earlier Zofloya, which influenced the young radical poet Shelley, The Libertine successfully appealed to middle-class fascination for decadent upper-class libertinism and fear of lower-class blatant sexuality.

Volumes 4 and 5: Historical Gothic

Jane Porter, The Scottish Chiefs (1810)

This pioneering historical romance incorporates Gothic elements and was the ultimate source for the Mel Gibson film Braveheart. The Scottish Chiefs preceded Walter Scott's better known Waverley Novels, and was itself reprinted into the twentieth century as a representation of Romantic nationalism.

Volume 6: Orientalist Gothic

Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan, The Missionary (1811)

Owenson campaigned for her native Ireland in such novels as The Wild Irish Girl (1806), (Pickering & Chatto, 2000), anticipating twentieth-century post-colonialism. In The Missionary, set in India, she went on to address anxieties of empire generated by the Napoleonic wars and continued into the Victorian age, when the novel was republished.

Bibliographical information:

Varieties of Female Gothic. General editor, Gary Kelly. 6 vols. London; Brookfield, Vt.: Pickering & Chatto, 2002.

- Vol. 1. Enlightenment Gothic and Terror Gothic

- Vol. 2. Street Gothic: Female Gothic Chapbooks

- Vol. 3. Erotic Gothic

- Vols. 4-5. Historical Gothic

- Vol. 6. Orientalist Gothic

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