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Gothic Literature


In 1764 The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole was published. This novel was a breakthrough in English literature as it was the first ever Gothic novel published. Ever since, Gothic literature became a popular genre throughout the rest of the 18th century and into the 19th Century. Gothic literature is still popular today as Gothic films enjoy big success on the big screen.


Gothic fiction enjoys many different authors from the 18th Century through to the modern age. The following shows only a few of the many Gothic authors many people will recognise:

  • Horace Walpole
  • Ann Radcliffe
  • Daphne du Mariner
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Bram Stoker
  • Stephen King
  • Mary Shelley

There are far too many Gothic authors to list each and every single one.


The term Gothic is named after a barbaric tribe called the Visigoths. Gothic is a term that was meant to represent the barbaric past of the medieval world. Gothic architecture incorporated ideas of medieval architecture such as:

  • Turrets
  • Towers
  • Pointed arches
  • Castles
  • Cathedrals

Gothic architecture found a fascination with the buildings of the past and incorporated into Victorian architecture. Gothic fiction therefore also takes on the idea of the past and incorporates many settings that are related to the medieval past.


Settings such as castles from Gothic novels like Dracula and Castle of Otranto are set in the idealised settling of medieval buildings in the same way that gothic architecture used. Religion also plays a major part of Gothic fiction with buildings like monasteries and cathedrals being ideal settings as can be found in novels such as The Monk.

Isolation also became a big thing in Gothic literature as it is easier to scare the protagonist by placing them in a situation that they cannot escape from. Settings for Gothic fiction therefore often include:

  • Castles
  • Monastries
  • Cathedrals
  • Graveyards
  • Farmhouses in the middle of nowhere

Any place that is out of the way and preferably with a long history is an ideal setting for any Gothic setting.


Gothic fiction creates a sense of the past being a terrifying and barbaric place. Isolation of a setting adds to the sense of foreboding and panic for any Gothic protagonist. Gothic fiction uses the past and the setting in order to terrify not only the protagonist but also the reader and films work to scare and to thrill audiences today.

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