The Old English Baron: a Gothic Story
The Old English Baron is an early Gothic novel by the English author Clara Reeve. It was first published under this title in 1778, although it had anonymously appeared in 1777 under its original name of The Champion of Virtue, before Samuel Richardson's daughter, Mrs Bridgen, had edited it for her. Apart from typographical errors, the revision was trifling.
Miss Reeve noted in the 1778 preface that
"This Story is the literary offspring of The Castle of Otranto, written upon the same plan, with a design to unite the most attractive and interesting circumstances of the ancient Romance and modern Novel, at the same time it assumes a character and manner of its own, that differs from both; it is distinguished by the appellation of a Gothic Story, being a picture of Gothic times and manners."
Originally Miss Reeve presented the story, as Walpole had done before her, as an old manuscript she had merely discovered and transcribed. Under Mrs Bridgen's auspices this fiction was removed from the preface, but more subtle textual references to its authenticity were allowed to remain. These included the claim that the four-year interval was a lacuna in the manuscript, where the original author was suppose to have left off and a "more modern hand" continued the manuscript; there are many subsequent breaches in the narrative where the original was supposed to have been defaced by damp.
The Oxford World's Classics edition notes that it was a major influence in the development of Gothic fiction. It was dramatized in 1799 as Edmond, Orphan of the Castle.
From Wikipedia (CC BY-SA).
- THE OLD ENGLISH BARON
- THE OLD ENGLISH BARON: A GOTHIC STORY.
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