Risky Regencies

Queen of the Goths, Georgian Style

Happy Saturday, everyone! First, a few tidbits: As Megan said yesterday, she and I are on Twitter (thanks to Keira’s urging, and my own never-ending quest to find ways to waste time online). Come and “follow” us, though most of my updates consist of “drinking tea and looking at stuff on Etsy while meant to be working.”

For the last, er, year or more, I have done no updates to my own blog, but am going to start doing at least a few, if only to keep myself up-to-date on what’s going on in my book world! Book releases, vacations, maybe what I’m reading that day. Visit me here!

MAC cosmetics is coming out with a genius new line of Hello Kitty goodies! I have a pink lipgloss called “Nice Kitty” on order…

And, most important, I have a new alter ego! Her name is Laurel McKee (Laurel being my middle name, McKee a random Irish name I liked), and she will be writing my “Daughters of Ireland” series with Grand Central Publishing! She’s hoping to have her new website unveiled St. Patrick’s Day, with the first book out February 2010. It’s going to be fun having a split personality!

And author Ann Radcliffe died on this date in 1823. She could be called “Queen of the Gothic novel,” as many of the standard elements of her plots can still be found in novels today, such as innocent heroines, dark, mysterious heroes, dramatic settings, and wicked villains. (And she was the most popular writer of her own day, influencing Keats and Scott among others, and forming the centerpiece of Catherine Morland’s literary obsessions in Northanger Abbey).

She was born in London in 1764, the only child of William and Anna Ward, and married William Radcliffe at age 22. (Radcliffe was a lawyer, and later editor and owner of The English Chronicle). Ann was said to be shy and reclusive, so not much was known about her private life, which gave rise to many rumors. (She had gone mad as a result of her terrible imagination and been sent to an asylum! She had been captured as a spy in Paris! She ate rare pork chops before bed to stimulate nightmares for her novels!)

J.M.S. Tompkins writes that in all Radcliffe’s novels “a beautiful and solitary girl is persecuted in picturesque surroundings, and, after many fluctuations of fortune, during which she seems again and again on the point of reaching safety, only to be thrust back again into the midst of perils, is restored to her friends and marries the man of her choice.” Sounds like the Victoria Holt stories I was addicted to as a teenager!

Her best known works include A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Romance of the Forest (1791), The Italian (1796), and of course The Mysteries of Udolpho. She also wrote a travelogue, A Journey Through Holland and the Western Frontier of Germany (1795) and various poems, which were published by her husband after her death along with the historical romance Gaston de Blondville.

More information can be found (mostly on the books, since the details of her life are still obscure–though I doubt the pork thing) in Deborah Rogers’ Ann Radcliffe: A Biography-Bibliography (1996).Have you ever read any of Radcliffe’s works? Have any favorite modern Gothic authors?? I’m thinking a Mysteries of Udolpho-theme Halloween party would be lots of fun…

Have you ever read any of Radcliffe’s books? Have any favorite modern Gothic authors? And what might you wear to my Halloween party???

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Megan Frampton
13 years ago

I haven’t read any Radcliffe books, but they sound like so much fun! I read a lot of paranormal with female heroines, and some of that stuff is like a gothic novel, I think. I haven’t read any true gothics since Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt back in the day.

And Laurel McKee sounds like a good name, Amanda!

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

I keep meaning to read Radcliffe. It looks like you can get all of the books on GOOGLE BOOKS

I loved Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. Makes me wonder how many of us got into Romance through the Gothics.

Amanda, I like your new name for Grand Central, but I don’t envy you the double marketing of having two identities. Been there! No matter what the name, your books will be terrific.

13 years ago

Hi, Amanda!

“Daughters of Ireland”? Intriguing! I’ve been studying Irish for a couple of years now … lots of fun.

I like the Gothic style, although I missed the Gothic romance wave.

(Did have one of those strange reading experiences, though, when I picked up a Victoria Holt as an adult and had that weird feeling of sort-of knowing what was going to happen all the way through … I must have pulled the same book off my older sister’s pile when I was little.)

I’m with Megan–a dark & scary first-person narrative is the way I like it. Not classic Gothic romance, but a lot of the things that make people love them.

Amanda McCabe
13 years ago

“but I don’t envy you the double marketing of having two identities.”

I think it will be a bit confusing for a while, but both publishers wanted it! And hopefully it will be a way for me to keep things straight–eventually. 🙂

I read “Mysteries of Udolpho” a long time ago, after I first read “Northanger Abbey” and it piqued my interest! I remember it as being lots of fun if a bit over-the-top for modern taste!

“a dark & scary first-person narrative is the way I like it.”

Oh, yes!! I wish there were more of these out there, I love them, too.

Amanda McCabe
13 years ago

“”Daughters of Ireland”? Intriguing! I’ve been studying Irish for a couple of years now … lots of fun.”

Greta, I am having so much fun working on these stories! They’re set around the uprising of 1798 (a trilogy about 3 sisters), and the research has been intriguing. I’m sure I’ll be blogging lots about it in the future.

Susan Wilbanks
13 years ago

Congratulations on your new series and pseudonym, Amanda! And I may be picking your brain for research ideas soon, because eventually I need to figure out what really happened in Ireland in the 1790’s as backstory for my alternative history version of what comes next.

I’m trying to read one of Radcliffe’s lesser-known books, THE CASTLES OF ATHLIN AND DUNBANE, which I stumbled across quite by accident when looking for some obscure Gothic titles for one of my characters to find in a crate of books. It’s about a rivalry between two Scottish noble families, and since Book Two of the alternative history is going to be set in the Highlands, I decided to have the character read it (not least because he’s going to end up in a star-crossed but eventually happy romance with the daughter of a Scottish earl). But I’m finding Radcliffe’s style a bit of a slog.

Cara King
13 years ago

I read Udolpho way back when…and I hate to be small-minded, but I couldn’t take how often the hero cried! When he parted with the heroine, when reunited with her…he had an excess of sensibility, if you ask me!

And for modern tastes, I thought it too long and too slow….not a lot happens. And vast passages of scenic description (not that Radcliffe had *seen* anything she was describing), which all read oddly now (we can just look at a picture! Or see the Pyrenees in a movie or something!)

Cara (who didn’t actually hate Udolpho, but liked it way less than Burney or Edgeworth or pretty much anything else from the period…)

Amanda McCabe
13 years ago

Susan, I have a list of sources I’ve been keeping for the Irish books, let me know if you’d like me to send it! (I’m going to put all that info on the new website eventually, too)

Louisa Cornell
13 years ago

I’ve read Radcliffe and a number of other early Gothic authors. I love the style, but never read Victoria Holt or any of the other later Gothic writers. I have read Kathleen Koen’s Through a Glass Darkly and I loved it.

My second book is a Gothic of sorts and I had a great time with it.

I know you will shine under any name, Amanda!

13 years ago

I’ve always wanted to read Radcliffe. I cut my teeth on Gothic romances by Victoria Holt and the like. I suppose you could say Anne Radcliffe was the grandmere’ of romance novels, lol.

And Miss McKee, I can’t wait to read your Ireland series.

Susan Wilbanks
13 years ago

That would be wonderful, Amanda! I’m susansw AT gmail DOT com.

Keira Soleore
13 years ago

Hi Laurel. It’s going to sound funny for a while. I see you as Ammanda. That name fits you perfectly: cute, bright, funny. This Laurel on the other hand…Hm, I can see your mom as Laurel.

No gothic romances in my past, nor any goth tendencies, despite living in Seattle. Well, grunge neither, thank the good lord.

Janet Mullany
13 years ago

I read many of the Radcliffe books some time ago and found them unintentionally funny, particularly in the matter of the horrid veil, mentioned in Northanger Abbey (I think that’s Udolpho). She does however have the gift of keeping you reading … and reading. It came in really useful when I wrote Dedication and had to create gothic excerpts by Mrs. Ravenwood as chapter headings–lots of fun!

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
13 years ago

I was a big Victoria Holt girl back in the day and Susan Howatch wrote some good ones before she started writing huge family sagas. I think romantic suspense took the place of the contemporary gothic, but I’m always up for trying to write one.

13 years ago

Gothic romance fangirl, right here! They introduced me to the romance genre and remain my comfort read to this day. I don’t know if I would ever write one since first-person is a skill to be cultivated, but I have hopes for the future.

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