The Castle of Otranto and The Mysterious Mother
  • Publication Date: January 2, 2003
  • ISBN: 9781551113043 / 155111304X
  • 357 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Castle of Otranto and The Mysterious Mother

  • Publication Date: January 2, 2003
  • ISBN: 9781551113043 / 155111304X
  • 357 pages; 5½" x 8½"

This Broadview edition pairs the first Gothic novel with the first Gothic drama, both by Horace Walpole.

Published on Christmas Eve, 1764, on Walpole’s private press at Strawberry Hill, his Gothicized country house, The Castle of Otranto became an instant and immediate classic of the Gothic genre as well as the prototype for Gothic fiction for the next two hundred years. Walpole’s brooding and intense drama, The Mysterious Mother, focuses on the protagonist’s angst over an act of incest with his mother, and includes the appearance of Father Benedict, Gothic literature’s first evil monk.

Appendices in this edition include selections from Walpole’s letters, contemporary responses, and writings illustrating the aesthetic and intellectual climate of the period. Also included is Sir Walter Scott’s introduction to the 1811 edition of The Castle of Otranto.


“Frederick Frank brings together Walpole’s controversial play The Mysterious Mother and his seminal Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto in this authoritative edition. Frank’s masterly introduction transports the modern reader back to a fresh appreciation of Walpolian ‘gloomth.’ The edition is an indispensable addition to every Gothicist’s book-shelf as well as an invaluable text for students, scholars, and general readers alike.” — Marie Mulvey-Roberts, University of the West of England, Bristol

“A valuable tool for any scholar of the Gothic, and especially of Walpole, this book includes a chronology of Walpole’s life and work, a collection of his correspondence, responses and reactions to the texts, and a guide to the aesthetic and intellectual backgrounds influencing both texts.” — Eighteenth-Century Fiction

List of Illustrations
Horace Walpole: A Brief Chronology
Publication History of The Castle of Otranto and The Mysterious Mother
Using the Edition

The Castle of Otranto; A Gothic Story

  • Preface to the First Edition
    Preface to the Second Edition
    Sonnet to the Right Honourable Lady Mary Coke

The Mysterious Mother; A Tragedy

  • Preface to the 1781 Edition
    Advertisement from the Publishers

Appendix A: Walpole’s Correspondence and Strawberry Hill

  1. The Castle of Otranto in Walpole’s Letters
  2. The Mysterious Mother in Walpole’s Letters
  3. The Little Gothic Villa at Strawberry Hill

Appendix B: Responses and Reactions

  1. Three Early Reviews of The Castle of Otranto
  2. Notices of The Mysterious Mother
  3. Two Poems: Ann Yearsley’s “To the Honourable H———E
    W———E, on Reading THE CASTLE OF OtRANTO
    December, 1784” and John Courtenay’s “Letter the Seventh,
    Naples, April 16, 1793”
  4. Comments on The Castle of Otranto and The Mysterious Mother
    by Early Readers

Appendix C: Aesthetic and Intellectual Backgrounds

  1. The Graveyard Poets: Alexander Pope, Thomas Parnell, John Dyer, David Mallet, Edward Young, Robert Blair, Mark
    Akenside, William Collins, Thomas Warton the Younger, Thomas Gray
  2. From James Hervey’s Meditations Among the Tombs
  3. From Bishop Richard Hurd’s Letters on Chivalry and Romance
  4. From Edmund Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful

Appendix D: Sir Walter Scott’s Introduction to the 1811 Edition of The Castle of Otranto


Frederick S. Frank is Professor Emeritus of English, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA. His books include The First Gothics: A Critical Guide to the English Gothic Novel (Garland, 1987) and The Poe Encyclopedia (Greenwood, 1997).