Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Radcliffe, [Mrs] Ann

(1764-1823) UK novelist. Although her influential Gothic romances are full of delicious supernatural effects, only the last is in fact a Supernatural Fiction: in the others, things that seem supernatural invariably prove to have a natural explanation (see Rationalized Fantasy). Those earlier novels are The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne: A Highland Story (1789), A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Romance of the Forest, Interspersed with some Pieces of Poetry (1791), The Mysteries of Udolpho: A Romance Interspersed with some Pieces of Poetry (1794) and The Italian, or The Confessional of the Black Penitents (1797). Beyond their ingenious use of virtually animate Landscapes – which evoke much terror in the breasts of the female protagonists of the first three titles – these tales are of significance in the development of fantasy for their concentration on great eerie Gothic castles which likewise seem animate, and which exhibit many additional features of the full-blown fantasy Edifice.

AR's last novel, Gaston de Blondeville, or The Court of Henry III Keeping Festival in Ardennes (written 1802; 1826), moves past semblance to feature a genuine Ghost, who supports a claim that the king's favourite Knight has murdered him (for the sake of a magic Sword). The novel is also of interest in that it is set in the 13th century, and is thus an extremely early example of the historical novel. [JC]

[Mrs] Ann Ward Radcliffe


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.