Ann Radcliffe’s 1794 novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho has remained a powerful contribution to the Gothic genre, and an inspiration for readers and authors alike for over 200 years. Even those who have not read the novel may be familiar with the title from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (published in 1818), where Catherine Morland compares her experiences with General Tilney at Northanger Abbey with those of Emily St. Aubert at the castle of Udolpho. But to study Udolpho solely as it relates to Austen’s parody is to miss some of the depth and richness of the novel itself, and it only partly explains the significance of Radcliffe’s works on the popular imagination of the time.
This website is designed to give the reader a clearer overview of Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, highlighting some of the novel’s content and background information, as well as various scholars’ interpretations of the text. I will also argue Udolpho’s relevance to Eighteenth Century Literature, and to the gothic imagination which still persists today.
As you journey through this website, keep in mind the dark, mysterious passageways of the castle of Udolpho; but do not let your imagination run away with you, or you may require the same lesson learned by Catherine Morland, or by Emily St. Aubert.