Bringing Back the Gothic Novel
I love gothic novels. What’s not to love about a romance that also scares the life out of you?
The first gothics were written in the late 18th and early 19th century in England. Gothic romances were mysteries, often involving the supernatural and heavily tinged with horror. They were usually set against dark backgrounds of medieval ruins, mysterious manor houses and haunted castles. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole was the forerunner of the genre, which also included the works of Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Gregory Lewis and Mary Shelley. Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey is often labelled gothic, but in reality it gently pokes fun at readers of gothic novels.
During the 1960s gothic romances became enormously popular. Modeled on Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’, these novels usually had a spirited young heroine, a large gloomy mansion, peculiar supporting characters, precocious children and darkly handsome men with mysterious pasts. Authors included Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and Dorothy Eden.
The popularity of the gothic has waned in recent years. But I have always enjoyed the darker side of romance novels and really missed the gothics.
I hope that you will join me on my quest to ‘bring back the gothic’ and enjoy the promised resurgence of this neglected genre as much as I do!