Sunday, 5 October 2014

The History of Gothic Literature in England (British Library from 3rd Oct 2014) - I prefer ghosts to monsters!

There's a new exhibition on at The British Museum, examining the fascination of Gothic Literature in England (although they also mention Poe, because who can get away with talking about Gothic Literature without including the most macabre of them all). There a full article about it here on the BBC News Channel. They have everything from:

a vampire hunter's kit


an animated were-rabbit!
They also have more sophisticated exhibits, such as an annotated manuscript of  Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. 

The article is interesting in the fact that it talks about the current fashion in Gothic literature, saying that vampires are over and zombies are now in. Well, vampires were done several years ago, thanks to the flooding of the market from Twilight, although some of us are happily still writing them. The same is now happening with zombies. I can't turn around without there being another zombie apocalypse novel gracing my dash :). However, unlike the vampire flood, I can't say I'm interested this time. Zombies just don't do it for me. I chuckled at Warm Bodies, but that's about it. I'm not a Dawn of the Dead kinda gal, so I'll be watching this craze sail on by. 

My favourite horror will always be ghosts and I think that's due in part to the old tales I grew up with. If you look at Brtiish Literature and our folk tales, we've always favoured spooks over monsters. While Europe had their vampires and werewolves, the Brits have filled their fireside tales with vengeful spectres and messages from beyond the grave. There isn't a castle in the country without its own personal ghost, mostly more than one, in fact. 

Ghosts and their tales go back a lot further in Britain than the Gothic horror which the exhibition traces back to Horace Walpole's 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto. I read them (check out my A to Z posts for 2014 if you want some of my author recommendations), and I write them, my latest book being a ghost story, The Burning Web. I just love being scared by the shadow in the corner and feeling the trepidation as I follow a character up those old wooden stairs, not knowing what they will see when they reach the top! 

The ethereal presence of a ghost is much scarier to me than any physical monster. What about you, what's your favourite fear?


Is it symptoms left from his brain haemorrhage, or a guilty conscience that is making Tristan McCall see things no-one else can? Forced out of the police by scandal and illness, Tris is trying to rebuild his life through the renovation of the home he hopes to share with Xander, his husband. A sprawling Gothic pile, Berwick House is in need of attention, but Tris soon realises the attention is not all one way. Faced with a presence in the house only he can sense, Tris must decide if his damaged brain is playing tricks on him, or if Berwick House really holds a dark and dangerous message from beyond the grave.


  1. That were-rabbit is just creepy!!! Like a nightmare. I think for me, your imagination does more to scare me than anything I could actually see. It's what you can't see that really gets you scared!

    1. I know what you mean! ;P I suppose that's one thing we writers both make a living from and suffer from, over-active imaginations :)


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