Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer

Goya

In 1816, John Melmoth, a Dublin student, visits his miserly uncle on his deathbed. He finds a portrait dated 1646 hidden in his uncle’s closet depicting a mysterious ancestor with eyes ‘such as one feels they wish they had never seen.’ At his uncle’s funeral, a servant tells John an old family story about a… Continue reading Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer

The Final Entry in the Journal of the Late Leviticus Lovecraft

Caspar David Friedrich

From the Jack Vincent Papers, Volume I, believed to have been written in 1820... October 31, 18— My reason fails me this night. Already, I have seen the shadows moving in the darkness beyond the glass. And yet, they tell me that I am ill. Ill I am, but I know that I be not… Continue reading The Final Entry in the Journal of the Late Leviticus Lovecraft

Pugin: The Mad Genius of the Gothic Revival

Palace of Westminster

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812 – 1852) was an English architect and propagandist. Although the Gothic Revival began before Pugin, no single person did more than he in accelerating its influence, progress and ascendancy as the National Style of Victorian Britain. Pugin’s father, Augustus Charles (1769 – 1832), was a refugee from France who came… Continue reading Pugin: The Mad Genius of the Gothic Revival

Finding Jack Vincent

A London Street Scene

As a child growing up in the 1970s, I possessed a passion for morbid nineteenth century popular literature. I had inherited this trait from my mother, a Catholic turned Spiritualist with a taste for gothic film and fiction. I was thus always dimly aware of the name ‘Jack Vincent’ through the cheap paperback anthologies of… Continue reading Finding Jack Vincent

The Gothic Revival

Figures from the Main Portal of the West façade

During the Renaissance, ‘Gothic’ became a pejorative label for all things barbarous. In a model of history probably first posited by Petrach and developed and disseminated by Italian Renaissance Humanists, it was believed that there were two epochs of cultural excellence, the Classical and their own. These were separated by a terrible period of ignorance… Continue reading The Gothic Revival

Shark Alley: The Memoirs of a Penny-a-Liner

Shark Alley detail

Adrift in the Atlantic with a scheming Tory MP. Surrounded by sharks. Low on booze... ‘I can fancy a future Author taking for his story the glorious action off Cape Danger, when, striking only to the Powers above, the Birkenhead went down; and when, with heroic courage and endurance, the men kept to their duty… Continue reading Shark Alley: The Memoirs of a Penny-a-Liner

John William Polidori: The Man Who Wrote ‘The Vampyre’

Bela Lugosi Dracula

John Polidori was a promising writer who died tragically young. His reputation has suffered at the pens of the Byron circle, of which he was briefly a member, and their biographers. He is best known for his story ‘The Vampyre’ (1819), which created the modern myth of the aristocratic undead that endures to this day.… Continue reading John William Polidori: The Man Who Wrote ‘The Vampyre’

A Very Popular Murder: The Narratology of Jack the Ripper

The piece originally appeared in Blot the Skrip and Jar It, September 15, 2014. So, among all the other poignant, pointless and terrifying news stories that broke last week, it was announced in a Daily Mail ‘world exclusive’ that the hunt for the true identity of Jack the Ripper was over (again). Journalists across the… Continue reading A Very Popular Murder: The Narratology of Jack the Ripper

William Harrison Ainsworth: A Contextual Chronology

1805 – William Harrison Ainsworth born in Manchester, February 4, the first child of Thomas Ainsworth, solicitor, and Ann Harrison. 1806 – Birth of brother, Thomas Gilbert Ainsworth, October 4 (destined for a long life of mental illness). 1807 – British slave trade abolished by Act of Parliament. 1812 – Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. 1814… Continue reading William Harrison Ainsworth: A Contextual Chronology

Remembering Richard Matheson (1926 – 2013)

The Omega Man

Richard Burton Matheson (1926 – 2013) would have been ninety this weekend, so let us just pause to remember the man who, along with H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King, is probably the most significant and influential horror writer of the twentieth century. Matheson was a prolific novelist, short story and script writer responsible for some… Continue reading Remembering Richard Matheson (1926 – 2013)