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)

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The House of Horror: A History of Hammer Films

Dracula Prince of Darkness

Hammer was a small, family-run British film production company that once dominated the global horror market and remains hugely influential. Hammer resurrected the gothic icons discarded by Hollywood after the war in stylish, sexy and violent films that captured the essence of the original literary form, and functioned as dark reflections of the conventional costume… Continue reading The House of Horror: A History of Hammer Films

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’

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

Gothic Film: A Brief History

Gothic films are at once very easy and very difficult to categorise. Within the wider context of the “horror” genre, gothic films are linked directly to the literary gothic of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, often adapting the original novels – for example: F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (Germany, 1922), Tod Browning’s Dracula and James Whale’s Frankenstein… Continue reading Gothic Film: A Brief History