Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823) was an English author, widely considered to be the first Gothic novelist. Very little is known about her life as she never appeared in public but her novels were influential for many other writers, including Jane Austen and Edgar Allen Poe. She published six novels: The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Romance of the Forest, A Sicilian Romance, The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne, Gaston de Blondeville and The Italian. She pioneered the technique of explained Gothicism, whereby the supernatural events of the novel are rationally explained at its close with reason prevailing over the terrifying – this made the Gothic novel respectable in the late eighteenth century. Radcliffe had a romantic style, with wild landscapes and long journeys playing major roles in her writing, and she also put large emphasis on morals and women’s rights.
Read some of Radcliffe’s novels online at Project Gutenberg.