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Research Guides@Tufts

The Rise of Gothic Fiction in England & the United States

Gothic Fiction in the Victorian Era

Victorian Gothic: 1832-1901

"In the Victorian era, Gothic fiction had ceased to be a dominant literary genre. However, the Gothic tropes used earlier in the eighteenth century in texts such as Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho were transported and interwoven into many late-nineteenth century narratives. These tropes included psychological and physical terror; mystery and the supernatural; madness, doubling, and heredity curses.

The gloomy atmosphere and persistent melodrama present in Dickens' Bleak House and Oliver Twist, exemplifies the transference of Gothic components into an urban, modern setting. The Victorian Gothic moves away from the familiar themes of Gothic fiction - ruined castles, helpless heroines, and evil villains - to situate the tropes of the supernatural and the uncanny within a recognisable environment. This brings a sense of verisimilitude to the narrative, and thereby renders the Gothic features of the text all the more disturbing."

Read more in the Introduction to The Victorian Gothic by Charlotte Barrett.


The links below will take you to some of the most important works of English and American Gothic fiction from the  Victorian era.