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The Castle of Otranto itself took inspiration from previous works.

The Castle of Otranto

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The Castle of Otranto
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or Podcast – Approx. 4 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher:
Published: October 6th, 2008
The Castle of Otranto is a 1764 novel by Horace Walpole. It is generally held to be the first gothic novel, initiating a literary genre which would become extremely popular in the later 18th century and early 19th century. Thus, Castle, and Walpole by extension is arguably the forerunner to such authors as Ann Radcliffe, Bram Stoker, Daphne du Maurier, and Stephen King.

The Castle of Otranto is a 1764 novel by Horace Walpole. It is generally regarded as the first gothic novel, initiating a literary genre which would become extremely popular in the later 18th century and early 19th century, with authors such as Charles Maturin, Ann Radcliffe, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and Daphne du Maurier.

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

From Svankmajer’s film of The Castle of Otranto

Waking from a dream in the summer of 1764, Horace Walpole put pen to paper and wrote solidly for two months. The end result was The Castle of Otranto – the first Gothic novel – published on Christmas Eve of the same year.

Waking from a dream in the summer of 1764, Horace Walpole put pen to paper and wrote solidly for two months. The end result was The Castle of Otranto – the first Gothic novel – published on Christmas Eve of the same year. The story revolves around a labyrinthine medieval Italian Castle and its lord, Manfred. It is a tale of mistaken identity, supernatural happenings and tense pursuits, and is Walpole’s deliberate attempt to protest against the unimaginative fiction of his day. Otranto harks back to the entertainment and improbability found in medieval romances and by subtitling it ‘a Gothic story’ Walpole invented the genre of the same name that still exists today. This is Walpole’s personal copy of the second edition of Otranto. It was published four months after the successful first edition and identifies Walpole as the author for the first time. When deciding where to set his novel Walpole referred to a map of Italy and chose the town of Otranto at random. In 1786 he was alerted to the existence of an actual castle in Otranto when he was given the watercolour drawing by Willey Reveley which is now bound into this copy. Walpole was so pleased with the accidental similarity between the real castle and his imagined one that he had the drawing engraved for use in later editions of the novel.