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Year 8 - Gothic Literature: Home

The genre Gothic Literature has special elements which make it compelling. Have a look at this guide to assist you to learn about Gothic Literature. There is plenty of suggestions of what to read as well.

Gothic Literature - in a nutshell

The Telltale Heart

What is Gothic Literature

In the most general terms, ​Gothic literature can be defined as writing that employs dark and picturesque scenery, startling and melodramatic narrative devices, and an overall atmosphere of exoticism, mystery, fear, and dread. Often, a Gothic novel or story will revolve around a large, ancient house that conceals a terrible secret or that serves as the refuge of an especially frightening and threatening character. Despite the fairly common use of this bleak motif, Gothic writers have also used supernatural elements, touches of romance, well-known historical characters, and travel and adventure narratives to entertain their readers.


A few of the most influential and popular early 18th-century Gothic writers were Horace Walpole ("The Castle of Otranto," 1765), Ann Radcliffe ("Mysteries of Udolpho," 1794), Matthew Lewis ("The Monk," 1796), and Charles Brockden Brown ("Wieland," 1798).

The genre continued to command a large readership well into the 19th century, first as Romantic authors such as Sir Walter Scott (“The Tapestried Chamber," 1829) adopted Gothic conventions, then later as Victorian writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson ("The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," 1886) and Bram Stoker ("Dracula," 1897) incorporated Gothic motifs in their stories of horror and suspense.

Elements of Gothic fiction are prevalent in several of the acknowledged classics of 19th-century literature, including Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" (1818), Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The House of the Seven Gables" (1851), Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre" (1847), Victor Hugo's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1831 in French), and many of the tales written by Edgar Allan Poe.

In England, the Gothic novel as a genre had largely played itself out by 1840. It left a lasting legacy, however, in works such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the works of Edgar Allan Poe. From these, the Gothic genre strictly considered, gave way to modern horror fiction.

from Gothic Literature , And then there was Poe