Hi, here's Jo, just back from a few days up north of here — Holy Island/Lindisfarne, Bamburgh Castle, and the Farne Islands (seals and birds, including puffins.) That on top of a month away in North America, plus Delta losing my luggage again (they lost it on the way out, too) leaves me without the energy to blog about that now.
Here's a picture of Bamburgh, however. The original castle goes back to, I think, the 8th century but the present stucture was heavily restored in the 18th century and then again in the early 20th, but it's nice to see a castle in good shape for a change.
So I've picked a post from Minepast from 2005. Minepast is my blog of odd historical stuff. I only post there when I come across something, usually when researching. This piece does indicate that the current fashion for Jane Austen and zombies, vampires, and other monsters wouldn't have surprised her much. Do you like the calm, pastoral vision of the early 18th century, or would you prefer the darker, more tumultuous one? Which do you think was real? If such a question has meaning.
Here we go with the original article, which I haven't been able to resist fiddling with..
I admire Jane Austen and her works, but she does create in the modern mind an image of an early 19th century England full of sense and decorum. This even with sensibility contrasted with sense and Lydia in Pride and Prejudice to demonstrate how wild young ladies could be, not to mention the outrageous behaviour of many real people of the time.
Of course, in Northanger Abbey she spoofed the "horrid" novels of her time, but that proves she read the novels, and we shouldn't forget just how popular they were, and the height of their popularity was the early 19th century.
In 1796 Matthew Lewis produced The Monk, which perhaps started the craze, though there were other such books at about the same time. Possibly the French Revolution stirred the imagination in a dark direction, which does make one wonder about the recent popularity of dark fantasy. Echoes of 9/11 and years of war, perhaps. Though I haven't studied the subject, the popularity doesn't seem to have strongly spread beyond North America.
1798 we have The Two Emilys. An innocuous enough title, but…. "In The Two Emilys, masquerade, an earthquake, bigamy, insanity, blackmail, and duels serve the demonic Emily Fitzallen in her drive for revenge on her counterpart and the novel's heroine. Emily Arden, and the man over whom they do battle, the Marquis of Lenox. Will the good Emily or the evil one prevail? Featuring a wild, improbable plot and action that ranges from Ireland and Scotland to Switzerland and Italy, The Two Emilys remains an unpredictable and thrilling Gothic tale."
That description and cover is from Valancourt Books, which reissues many of these yummy titles. That's their cover.
Yes, people of all kinds were eagerly gobbling up gothic novels. Foreign settings perhaps made the extreme believable. Even today, readers seem to prefer their dark dominant heroes from Greece and Sicily rather than from Chelsea or Birmingham.
Thus we have Koenigsmark the Robber; or, the Terror ofBohemia: In Which Is Included, the Affecting History of Rosenberg and Adelaide. Also The Cavern of Horrors; or, Miseries of Miranda: A Neapolitan Tale, and The Cavern of Death, which apparently was a real bestseller but is mostly a male adventure novel.
Included in foreign was Catholicism with monks, nuns, and convents, always fertile ground for the Protestant imagination. The Bleeding Nun of the Castle of Lindenberg. The Convent of St. Michael or the Unfortunate Emilia. Father Innocent, Abbot of the Capuchins; or the Crimes of Cloisters. The Midnight Assassin: Or, Confession of the Monk Rinaldi; Containing a Complete History of His Diabolical Machinations and Unparalleled Ferocity
(I rather like the alternate title system. Perhaps we could start using it again. Let's see….The Secret Duke, or Bella and the Wicked Captain. An Unlikely Countess, or The Perils of Prudence. Here's a sneak peek at the cover, even before the text is added. It's lovely, isn't it? The book will be out next March.)
Then there are the novels about sex. Yes, Dear Reader, the Regency miss did have a bit of a clue about sex, though perhaps a hair-raising one if these were her only source. Conscience; or, the Bridal Night: A Tragedy, in Five Acts. (The curious mind wonders which five acts…..*G*)The Southern Tower; or, Conjugal Sacrifice and Retribution
The editor of Valancourt Books seems to favor the male adventure over the female, but this one seems promising. The Mysterious Hand; or, Subterranean Horrours! "
Egfryd's wild and improbable schemes include framing Theodore for murder, attempting to rape Julia in a hot air balloon, and finally imprisoning them both on a remote island rigged with gunpowder to blow them both to bits should they attempt to escape. Can the two lovers avoid the snares of the wily Count or will they fall victim to his inveterate malice?"
The main publisher of the female gothics was the Minerva Press, which I featured in my first published book, Lord Wraybourne's Betrothed.My novella, Forbidden Affections, which has been in a couple of collections, is all about Gothic novels. Valancourt Books has published some new editionsof Minerva press books..
If you're hooked, the Valancourt edition is easily available.
Have you read any early 19th century gothics? What did you think of them?