Ainsworth’s Guy Fawkes: Tragic Hero, Catholic Martyr

Guy Fawkes mask

Remember, remember the fifth of November Gunpowder, treason and plot. I see no reason, why gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot. Nowadays, the image of Guy Fawkes – the man who tried to blow up Parliament on November 5, 1605, assassinating James I so a popular revolt could install a Catholic monarch – has become… Continue reading Ainsworth’s Guy Fawkes: Tragic Hero, Catholic Martyr

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A Romance of Pendle Forest: The Lancashire Witches by W.H. Ainsworth (Part One)

Barbara Steele

The Lancashire Novelist Largely because of a popular fascination with the occult, The Lancashire Witches is the only one of Ainsworth’s novels to have remained consistently in print to this day, often shelved alongside the work of Dennis Wheatley and Montague Summers (both of whom it undoubtedly influenced). The novel is also one of the… Continue reading A Romance of Pendle Forest: The Lancashire Witches by W.H. Ainsworth (Part One)

A Romance of Pendle Forest: The Lancashire Witches by W.H. Ainsworth (Part Two)

Barabara Steele

The Mark of Satan The heart of all good witchcraft stories is the compact with the Devil, the model for which is concisely provided by the Inquisitors Sprenger and Kramer in their Malleus Maleficarum: Now the method of profession is twofold. One is a solemn ceremony, like a solemn vow. The other is private, and… Continue reading A Romance of Pendle Forest: The Lancashire Witches by W.H. Ainsworth (Part Two)

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

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

De Quincey and The Gothic

Dore Ancient Mariner

Thomas De Quincey (1785 – 1859) was a prolific periodical writer. He is usually aligned historically with the early English Romantics, and is best known for his remarkable autobiography Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1821), and the satirical treatise ‘On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts’ (1827). De Quincey rarely wrote gothic… Continue reading De Quincey and The Gothic