Sir Walter Scott esteemed her "the first poetess of romantic fiction." Jane Austen borrowed prodigiously from her-and sent up the steamy overwroughtness of her writing-in Northanger Abbey. British author ANN RADCLIFFE (1764-1823) pioneered the Gothic romance as popular fiction with her 1789 debut novel, The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne, and went on to wild success with further works of demure heroines lost in the perils of supernatural melodrama.
In this 1794 thriller, perhaps the quintessential example of the genre and Radcliffe's most popular work, the young and beautiful orphan Emily St. Aubert is imprisoned at sinister Castle Udolpho, and suffers frustrated romance and the hauntings of ghosts. A vital example of early horror and later a profound influence on pulp fiction, this is essential reading for both fans of the genre and those interested in its psychological and thematic development.