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

Advertisements

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’

Drugs and Addiction in Romantic Literature

Opium Den

That drugs might be used to aid the creative process remains a contentious issue to this day, but during the period under consideration social attitudes towards narcotics were quite different. In 1790, for example, the clergyman and poet George Crabbe was plagued by vertigo and fearful of apoplexy; his physician prescribed opium, which the author… Continue reading Drugs and Addiction in Romantic Literature

A Gothic Chronology

This is a resource I initially put together when lecturing Gothic fiction about ten years ago which I’ve now attempted to update. It is relatively straightforward to compile a list of primary sources for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries but after that it gets tricky, firstly because it becomes more difficult to categorise within the… Continue reading A Gothic Chronology

‘The Enchanter of the North’: A Profile of Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832)

Sir Walter Scott was a Scottish poet, novelist, editor, critic and antiquarian. The ‘Enchanter of the North’ (as he was often known in his own day) was born in the College Wynd, Edinburgh in August 1771, the ninth child of Anne Rutherford and Walter Scott, solicitor, a strict Calvinist with whom Scott would later clash… Continue reading ‘The Enchanter of the North’: A Profile of Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832)