> Skip to content
  • Published: 1 June 2001
  • ISBN: 9780140437591
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 704
  • RRP: $19.99

The Mysteries of Udolpho




With its insightful portrayals of her protagonist's inner life, Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho was a hugely influential work of early Gothic horror. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by Jacqueline Howard.Emily St Aubert lives with her loving, enlightened parents in exquisitely happy rural isolation. But when she is tragically orphaned, the beautiful young woman is thrown on the mercy of her heartless aunt's sinister new husband. The villainous Signor Montoni has designs upon his wife's fortune, and that of her niece, and imprisons them in the gloomy medieval castle Udolpho. Separated from her beloved Valancourt, Emily must cope with torments of wild imaginings and terrors, as ghostly omens and attempts upon her virtue and life threaten to overwhelm her. One of the most popular novels of its time, The Mysteries of Udolpho continues to grip readers with its vivid characters, its sublime Alpine settings and its dramatic sense of suspense and danger.In her introduction, Jacqueline Howard discusses the novel's huge success when it was first published, its place as a groundbreaking work of the Gothic genre, and Radcliffe's imaginative use of history, poetry, landscape and the supernatural. This edition also includes further reading, a chronology, and notes.Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823) was the leading exponent of Gothic fiction. During her lifetime she published five novels including A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1797), as well as a collection of European travel writings. Her novels were immensely popular, and much imitated. If you enjoyed The Mysteries of Udolpho, you might like Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings, also available in Penguin Classics.

  • Published: 1 June 2001
  • ISBN: 9780140437591
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 704
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

Ann Radcliffe

Ann Radcliffe was born in 1764, the daughter of a London tradesman. In 1786 she married William Radcliffe, later the manager of The English Chronicle. She set her first novel, The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1789), in Scotland, and it received little critical or public attention. Using more exotic locations in Europe, notably the 'sublime' landscapes of the Alps and Pyrenees, she wrote four more novels within ten years: A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Romance of the Forest (1791), The Mysteries of Udolfo (1794) and The Italian (1797), as well as a volume of descriptions of her travels in Holland, Germany and the Lake District.

The success of The Romance of the Forest established Radcliffe as the leading exponent of the historical Gothic Romance. Her later novels met with even greater attention, and produced many imitators (and, famously, Jane Austen's burlesque of The Romance of the Forest in Northanger Abbey), and influenced the work of Sir Walter Scott and Mary Wollstonecraft.

The Italian was the last book she published in her lifetime; a novel, Gaston de Blondeville, and St. Albans Abbey: A Metrical Tale were published posthumously. Despite the sensational nature of her romances and their enormous success, Radcliffe and her husband lived quietly - she made only one foreign journey and barely glimpsed the Alps that she wrote about so vividly. She died in 1823 from respiratory problems probably caused by pneumonia.

Also by Ann Radcliffe

See all

Related titles