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Research Guides@Tufts

The Rise of Gothic Fiction in England & the United States

Gothic Fiction in the Early 20th Century

Early 20th-Century Gothic: 1902-1923

"The modern ghost story developed late in the nineteenth century, which was a skeptical age. In an age of general belief in ghosts and similar spectral manifestations, ghost stories are generally matter of fact...The ghost in modern fiction takes more forms, such as the animal ghost, and may be more active and malevolent than in early Gothic fiction; Walpole's ghost is singularly inactive; the only effect the ghost's appearances have is to frighten servants and, finally, to destroy the castle as a result of expanding to his full size; it is not clear that he intended to destroy the castle. The modern ghost may have its own purposes, act on its personal emotions, like jealousy or the pleasure of inflicting pain, and not be the mere instrument of an outside force, like righting injustice or revenging a wrong. Ghost stories continued to be popular through the first decades of the twentieth century. 

The horror tale experienced an upsurge in popularity at the beginning of the twentieth century. Perhaps it can be explained, at least in part, as a way of expressing the horrors of World War I and the revulsion at its devastation."

Read more in The Gothic Experience by Lilia Melani.


The links below will take you to some of the most important works of English and American Gothic fiction from the early 20th Century.