Four Gothic Novels

By Horace Walpole; William Beckford et al. | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

[1831]

THE Publishers of the Standard Novels, in selecting 'Frankenstein' for one of their series, expressed a wish that I should furnish them with some account of the origin of the story. I am the more willing to comply, because I shall thus give a general answer to the question, so very frequently asked me—'How I, then a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea?' It is true that I am very averse to bringing myself forward in print; but as my account will only appear as an appendage to a former production, and as it will be confined to such topics as have connection with my authorship alone, I can scarcely accuse myself of a personal intrusion.

It is not singular that, as the daughter of two persons of distinguished literary celebrity, I should very early in life have thought of writing. As a child I scribbled; and my favourite pastime, during the hours given me for recreation, was to 'write stories.' Still I had a dearer pleasure than this, which was the formation of castles in the air—the indulging in waking dreams—the following up trains of thought, which had for their subject the formation of a succession of imaginary incidents. My dreams were at once more fantastic and agreeable than my writings. In the latter I was a close imitator—rather doing as others had done, than putting down the suggestions of my own mind. What I wrote was intended at least for one other eye—my childhood's companion and friend; but my dreams were all my own; I accounted for them to nobody; they were my refuge when annoyed— my dearest pleasure when free.

I lived principally in the country as a girl, and passed a considerable time in Scotland. I made occasional visits to the more picturesque parts; but my habitual residence was on the blank and dreary northern shores of the Tay, near Dundee. Blank and dreary on retrospection I call them; they were not so to me then. They were the eyry of freedom, and the pleasant region where unheeded I could commune with the creatures of my fancy. I wrote then—but in a most common-place style. It was beneath the trees of the grounds belonging to our house, or on the bleak sides of the woodless mountains near, that my true compositions, the airy flights of my imagination, were born and fostered. I did not make myself the heroine of my tales. Life appeared to me too common-place an affair as regarded myself. I could not figure to myself that romantic woes or wonderful events would ever by my lot; but I was not confined to my own identity, and I could people the

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Four Gothic Novels
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Four Gothic Novels *
  • The Castle of Otranto *
  • Contents *
  • The Castle of Otranto *
  • A Chronology of Horace Walpole *
  • The Castle of Otranto, - A Story. *
  • Preface to the First Edition *
  • Preface to the Second Edition *
  • Sonnet - To the Right Honourable Lady Mary Coke *
  • The Castle of Otranto - A Gothic Story *
  • Chapter I *
  • Chapter II 31
  • Chapter III 44
  • Chapter IV 57
  • Chapter V 69
  • Vathek *
  • A Chronology of William Beckford *
  • Vathek *
  • The Monk *
  • A Chronology of Matthew Lewis *
  • The Monk - A Romance *
  • Preface *
  • Table of the Poetry *
  • Advertisement *
  • Volume I *
  • Chapter I *
  • Chapter II 186
  • Chapter III 220
  • Volume II *
  • Chapter I *
  • Chapter II 283
  • Chapter III 304
  • Chapter IV 325
  • Volume III *
  • Chapter I *
  • Chapter II 357
  • Chapter III *
  • Chapter IV 403
  • Chapter V 430
  • Frankenstein *
  • A Chronology of Mary Shelley *
  • Frankenstein - Or the Modern Prometheus *
  • Introduction - [1831] *
  • Preface - [1818] *
  • Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus *
  • Letter I *
  • Letter II 463
  • Letter III 466
  • Letter IV *
  • Chapter I 472
  • Chapter II 475
  • Chapter III 480
  • Chapter IV 485
  • Chapter V 490
  • Chapter VI 494
  • Chapter VII *
  • Chapter VIII *
  • Chapter IX *
  • Chapter X 517
  • Chapter XI 521
  • Chapter XII 527
  • Chapter XIII 531
  • Chapter XIV 535
  • Chapter XV *
  • Chapter XVI *
  • Chapter XVII 551
  • Chapter XVIII 554
  • Chapter XIX 560
  • Chapter XX 565
  • Chapter XXI 571
  • Chapter XXII 578
  • Chapter XXIII 585
  • Chapter XXIV 590
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