Romantic Gothic Literature

Every once in a while, a certain movement will have such a profound influence on the world that it changes the way people think and act. Sometimes, it involves human rights, and sometimes, it involves a religion. There are also other kinds of movements, like art and literary movements. In these movements, it seems like the whole world is changing because both art and literature can change in drastic ways. The Romantic Gothic Literature movement is one of these important movements. Here’s more information about the Romantic Gothic period and literature.


Despite the name, Romanticism has little connection with word “romantic” as it is used today. Instead, it’s actually the term for a literary movement that began in the 18th century that was basically a revolt against the aristocratic society that governed Western Europe. It placed special emphasis on the aesthetic experience and in particular, focused on such sensations like awe, trepidation, horror, and terror. Folk art became something to be respected and ancient customs became noble and desirable. It was an expression of wanting to return to a more natural time.

  • Romanticism: Discusses how Romanticism came about and discusses in particular folklore and art from the period.
  • Historical Considerations: A look at the concepts of Romanticism as well as the people who helped the movement become important.


Gothicism thrived in the 19th century. It’s categorized by an emphasis on the macabre and the mysterious. Concepts such as magic, hidden passages, bloody hands, screams, ghosts, and other supernatural entities and activities were all mainstays in the Gothic literary movement. The movement saw a revival in the 1740s when Horace Walpole purchased a grand estate and remodeled it in the “Gothick” style. He added towers, arched windows, and turrets, turning the building into quite a frightening place. Many houses in the surrounding areas followed suit, creating a sort of movement. Walpole published a novel, The Castle of Otranto, in 1764, which truly got the Gothic movement moving. Edgar Allen Poe was inspired by this style of writing and it shows in his horror stories.

Romantic Gothic Literature

What do you get when you combine these two things? Novels like The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Isabella, and La Belle Dame sans Merci. These were all horror stories that expressed the darker side of human nature and terrified their readers. Lord Byron was one of the most infamous writers of the period but the most infamous tale came from his wife, Mary Shelley, who wrote the horror story Frankenstein. Another well-known work includes Polidori’s The Vampire and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. These stories were written to both terrify and entrance the world, and it worked.

  • The Gothic Novel: Outlines the elements in a Romantic Gothic novel.
  • Frankenstein: Deeply explores the theme and messages of Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Romantic Gothic Poetry and Short Stories

Gothic poetry and short stories were fascinating to the people at the time. These horror stories captivated their audiences and often turned their authors into some of the most famous people in the world. A few of these poems and stories even propelled their authors into history whereby their books became classics and their names lived on, well past their deaths.

Gothic Romance Novels

Here’s a list of some of the more famous Gothic Romance novels.

  • The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole and Michal Gamer
  • The Mysteries of Udolpho by Emily Montoni
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  • Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen
  • The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
  • Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Boys in the Trees by Mary Swan
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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