Wednesday 31st October 2018
Venue: Chawton House
7pm drinks reception for 7.30pm tour
Late Night Gothic
December 1817 saw the posthumous publication of Jane Austen’s mock-gothic novel Northanger Abbey. Its naïve heroine Catherine Morland has filled her head with Gothic novels and cannot interpret the real world. Austen started writing the novel, first called Susan, over a decade before in 1794, when the Gothic novel, developed by the ‘Great Enchantress’ Ann Radcliffe, was enjoying huge popularity. That year, Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho, which told the story of orphaned Emily St Aubert, imprisoned in a castle by her villainous uncle Montoni, and trying to reunite with her lover Valancourt, was published. It was a story enjoyed by Austen’s characters in Northanger Abbey – Henry Tilney says ‘I remember finishing it in two days – my hair standing on end the whole time.’ In the summer of 1816, as Austen started revising Susan into Northanger Abbey for publication, another young woman was also inspired by the Gothic. Eighteen-year-old Mary Shelley read Radcliffe’s Udolpho in 1815, and in an infamous ghost-story writing competition on the shores of Lake Geneva the following summer, attempted to think up a tale that would ‘curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.’ The story, eventually published anonymously on 1 January, 1818, was Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus.
Both these novels – Northanger Abbey and Frankenstein – were published within weeks of one another, but provide very different perspectives on the Gothic craze of the 1790s. Join us this Halloween for a candlelit tour of our Gothic exhibition, which explores the connections between these two novels. Learn about the women writers who produced some of the eighteenth century’s most terrifying stories, and hear extracts from Mary Shelley, Jane Austen, and their contemporaries who had mastered the art of freezing the blood.
Tickets: £12; Students / Friends £9
To book, call us on 01420 541010 or book online here (subject to Eventbrite booking fee)