I was around thirteen years old when I came upon this book “The Romance of the Forest”, it was a gothic novel that had me hooked on to the story as it follows the orphan Adeline through a combination of mystery and suspense. So started my phase of interest in gothic literature, in particular Ann Radcliffe, the author of the novel and others such as “The Mysteries of Udolpho” (the very same book that is mentioned in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.) Very little is known of Ann Radcliffe life. English-born in 1764 July 9th, she married in 1787 to Oxford graduate and journalist William Radcliffe, and it is said that they had a seemingly happy marriage.
Radcliffe’s novels are characterised by the supernatural events that are then provided with rational reasons. Her style is romantic with vivid descriptions of landscapes and travel scenes, with large combination of Gothic elements with the use of the supernatural. With this technique, Radcliffe, explained Gothicism, the final revelation of the unusual phenomena, she is considered to be one of the founders of Gothic literature, despite the fact that others had written in this element, Radcliffe’s novels legitimised the genre and allowed it to receive the respectability in 1790s. Radcliffe influenced many other writers including Edgar Allen Poe, Sir Walter Scott, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, and Wilkie Collin’s the Woman in White.