About the Book
The Castle of Otranto
First published pseudonymously in 1764, The Castle of Otranto purported to be a translation of an Italian story of the time of the crusades. In it Walpole attempted, as he declared in the Preface to the Second Edition, "to blend the two kinds of romance: the ancient and the modern." Crammed with invention, entertainment, terror, and pathos, the novel was an immediate success and Walpole's own favorite among his numerous works. The novel is reprinted here from a text of 1798, the last that Walpole himself prepared for the press.
About the Author
Horace Walpole, 1717–1797
Miscellaneous writer, third son of Sir Robert W., the great minister of George II., was born in London, and ed. at Eton and Cambridge, after which he travelled on the Continent with Gray, the poet (q.v.). His father bestowed several lucrative appointments upon him, and he sat in Parliament for various places, but never took any prominent part in public business. By the death of his nephew, the 3rd Earl, he became in 1791 4th Earl of Orford. In 1747 he purchased the villa of Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, the conversion of which into a small Gothic Castle and the collection of the works of art and curios with which it was decorated was the main interest of his subsequent life. His position in society gave him access to the best information on all contemporary subjects of interest, and he was as successful in collecting gossip as curios. He also erected a private press, from which various important works, including Gray’s Bard, as well as his own writings, were issued. Among the latter are Letter from Xo Ho to his Friend Lien Chi at Pekin , The Castle of Otranto, the forerunner of the romances of terror of Mrs. Radcliffe and “Monk” Lewis, The Mysterious Mother (1768), a tragedy of considerable power, Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, Anecdotes of Painting, Catalogue of Engravers (1763), Essay on Modern Gardening, Memoirs of the Last Ten Years of George II., Memoirs of the Reign of George III., and above all his Letters, 2700 in number, vivacious, interesting, and often brilliant. W. never married
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