Sunday, July 10, 2011

Heroine of the Weekend

Hello everyone! I am finally ending my long, illness-based hiatus with a short Heroine post, just to get myself back in the blogging mindset (and to celebrate feeling better!). Our Heroine is novelist Ann Radcliffe, born July 9, 1764, and considered the founder of the Gothic sub-genre thanks to her vivid use of dramatic landscapes and the supernatural (though the supernatural always had a logical explanation in the end). When I first started reading romances, Gothics were some of my favorites. Give me a cover with a girl in a nightgown running along a moonlit cliff and I was there! And I have Radcliffe to thank for those great reading experiences.

The reason this post will be brief is simply that not much is known about her life beyond the bare facts. In 1823, the year she died, the Edinburgh Review said "She never appeared in public, nor mingled in private society, but kept herself apart." She was born Ann Ward in London, the daughter of a haberdasher, and in 1787 married William Radcliffe, the editor of the English Chronicle, and started writing soon after. The couple had no children, but were said to have a happy marriage. She died on February 7, 1823, probably of asthma.

She published 6 novels in all, the best known of which are probably and The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Romance of the Forest. She was an influence on many other writers, including Walter Scott, Poe, the Shelleys, and Austen (who parodied "Udolpho" in Northanger Abbey).

Most of my info today came from the intro to my copy of Udolpho and from British Authors Before 1800: A Biographical Dictionary (1952, ed. Stanley Kunitz & Howard Haycraft)

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