Gothic Gold: The Sadleir-Black Gothic Collection by Frederick S. Frank

Originally published in Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, vol.26, pp.287-[312]
© 1998 by The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Reproduced here by permission of the author and The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. See also the Appendix of commentaries on illustrations.

This narrative is the saga of the formation and content of the Sadleir-Black Gothic collection, monumental and compendious repository of rare Gothics and the premier collection of its type in the world. Maintained by the rare book department of the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia, the collection is a researcher’s time capsule of a lost literary movement. It attracts dozens of working scholars annually as well as the merely curious and has continued to grow since Robert Kerr Black, antiquarian bookseller and sometime graduate student at the University of Virginia, donated it in perpetuity to the Alderman Library in 1942. Currently, Sadleir-Black holds 1,135 titles1 representing every known mutation of the Gothic novel including many specimens of the shilling shockers or bluebooks, these short paperback Gothics once scorned by collectors to be the toxic literary waste and fin de siecle debris of the period. Twenty of the Gothic artifacts in the collection are vault items,2 so scarce and so rare, that they are perhaps the final surviving copies of their single run printings. Mrs. Radcliffe’s 1816 volume of poetry is but one rarity available to the working scholar who comes to the collection in quest of the real Gothic novel, that exciting body of literature that had been denounced by reviewers and devoured by readers during the last decade of the eighteenth century.

Readers who have made up their minds about what Gothic fiction is, who was reading it and why, who was writing it and why, or even what the physical appearance of the early Gothic novel was, will be enlightened by a research visit to Sadleir-Black, an experience which will alter many presuppositions about the Gothic, particularly for those scholars who approach the subject by way of feminist criticism or deconstructionist theory. For critics who dismiss the historical importance and literary worth of the Gothic, an investigation of Sadleir-Black might be conversionary. What lurks behind such intriguing titles as The Cavern of Horrors; or, The Miseries of Miranda,The Ruins of Rigonda; or, The Homicidal Father, Dusseldorf; or, The Fratricide, Correlia; or, The Mystic Tomb, Louisa; or, The Black Tower, The Nuns of the Desert; or, The Woodland Witches, The Phantoms of the Cloister; or, The Mysterious Manuscript, The Recluse of the Woods; or, The Generous Warrior, A Gothic Romance, The Spectre of Landmere Abbey; or, The Mystery of the Blue and Silver Bag, and two compelling titles which should not be omitted from any sequel to Isabella Thorpe’s reading list of Gothic delicacies,3 The Idiot Heiress and Deeds of Darkness; or, The Unnatural Uncle? A perusal of these and a myriad of other odd titles in Sadleir-Black will verify for the researcher a truth similar to what Mark Twain once said of Wagner’s music–that it is not nearly as bad as it sounds.

Who was Michael Sadleir (1888-1957),4 the motive force behind the collection? Most students of literature will associate his name with Excursions in Victorian Bibliography, especially the collecting and cataloguing of the Trollopes, the novelists Anthony and Frances. But between the years 1922 and 1937 when Sadleir sold his aggregation of terror novels to Robert K. Black, Sadleir was almost totally engaged in systematically collecting this unwanted kind of fiction. “The lust for Gothic romance,” he wrote, “took complete possession of me.”5 But his was a controlled and rational lust always governed by the intellectual precision and persistence of this extraordinary bibliophile. His keen desire to own these books as physically pleasurable objects was balanced by a desire to possess them intellectually, an ideal combination of inquisitiveness and acquisitiveness. Sadleir had been drawn toward the accumulation of horror fiction as an undergraduate at Oxford. His literary affairs with Poe and such French decadents and symbolists as J. K. Huysmans and Mallarme took him outside the Victorian mainstream of the novel and back to Charles Brockden Brown, America’s first Gothic practitioner. By way of Brown, Sadleir began to gaze in wonder down the dark and forbidden corridor of Gothic fiction and to alternate his central collecting mania for the Trollopes with a diametrically opposite passion for things Gothic. By 1922, as he himself puts it in his account of the beginnings of Sadleir- Black, “With Poe, Brockden Brown, Northanger Abbey, the ‘terror’ elements in Dickens and a generalized passion for old novels as things to possess for their own sake, I was all set for an adventure in Gothicism.”6

Sadleir’s Gothic adventure was serendipitous to the limit of the laws of serendipity at its outset. Rummaging in the Oxford Street bookstore of Bumpus, he stared in disbelief as he held in his hands Karl Grosse’s Horrid Mysteries and Regina Maria Roche’s The Children of the Abbey, two extremely elusive Gothic titles. One of these books, Horrid Mysteries (1796), was not merely a lost or extinct Gothic; it was one of the seven titles in the “Northanger Septet,”7 the gruesomely gratifying Gothics recommended to Catherine Morland by Isabella Thorpe in the pump room at Bath in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. The first time out–and the prospector had struck Gothic gold.

With the nonchalance of the neophyte, Sadleir had stumbled upon one of the missing Northanger novels whose very existence had been disparaged by the formidable critic, George Saintsbury. “I should indeed like some better authority than Miss Isabella Thorpe’s to assure me of their existence,”8 Saintsbury had erroneously pontificated. Sadleir was now demonically driven to locate and own the remaining six “Northanger Gothics”: The Mysterious Warning and The Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont by Regina Maria Roche; The Midnight Bell by Francis Lathom; The Necromancer; or, The Tale of the Black Forest translated from the German by Lawrence Flammenberg and the Gothic which would challenge Sadleir’s endurance as a collector, Eleanor’s Sleath’s The Orphan of the Rhine. As Sadleir pursued these ephemeral titles throughout the 1920s, the infrastructure of what was to become the collection began to assume a definite shape. The only hindrance to locating and purchasing first editions of major Gothics such as The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Castle of Otranto, and The Monk was their cost. The works of Walpole, Radcliffe, and Lewis were obtainable but prohibitively expensive as were the two teenage Gothics by Shelley, Zastrozzi and St. Irvyne; or, The Rosicrucian, which Sadleir craved and located but could not afford. But since nobody, neither antiquarian booksellers nor literary scholars, wanted the minor Gothics, Sadleir was able to spot and purchase such effluvia very cheaply because he and he alone could recognize the gold amidst the dross. At a Sothebys auction in 1923 which featured the dispersion of the Syston Park Library, Sadleir went early, stayed late, and at the jaded conclusion of the proceedings purchased several cases marked “contents unknown.” Again, as with his beginner’s luck at Bumpus’s bookshop, he acquired an additional cache of forgotten fiction, much of it pure or high Gothic. Sadleir recalls: “When I got the books home and sorted them up, I found that my Gothic collection had ceased to be an aspiration and become a reality. No title of current market importance was in the bundles, but there were a large number of genuine minor Gothics of the kind most difficult to locate,”9 including another Northanger title, Francis Lathom’s The Midnight Bell.

During the mid-1920s, Sadleir also wrote some of the first serious criticism of the Gothic novel, thus opening the way for the questings of such figures as Montague Summers.10 In November 1927 he published the important monograph, The Northanger Novels: A Footnote to Jane Austen for the English Association. By then this tenacious Gothophile had recovered six of the septet and was able to append a timely postscript when The Orphan of the Rhine fortuitously fell into his hands. Sadleir’s view of Gothicism, its rise, its nationwide reign of terror, and its collapse and disappearance in the late 1820s became the critical basis for the renaissance in Gothic studies which began in the 1950s. Based partially on his familiarity with the form through zealous collecting, Sadleir theorized that the Gothic novel expressed “an eloquent disequilibrium of the spirit,” “the triumph of chaos over order,” “a fierce reaction against exhausted classicism which lay like a tired blight upon the civilization of western Europe.” The Gothic’s array of collapsing structures and magnificent devastation rendered it a singular example of subversive and negative Romanticism. “For qualities it had, and good historical and psychological justification also. The Gothic romance was not by any means a mere crazy extravagance. Like most artistic movements, it had its primitive incompetence and its over-ripe elaboration; but it sprang from a genuine spiritual impulse, and during its period of florescence produced work of real and permanent beauty.”11 In 1927, these opinions were the rankest heresy; in 1957, the year in which Devendra P. Varma’s Gothic Flame 12 appeared, these same words had become doctrine. Thus, Sadleir became one of the first defenders and proponents of Gothic studies and the collection that was to bear his name is a confirmation that the Gothic could no longer be ignored or dismissed by cultural, intellectual, and literary historians.

If the vital core of the Sadleir-Black Gothic collection is the Northanger seven, its key years are 1923 and 1927. In 1927, Sadleir’s Northanger monograph aroused new curiosity and even a modicum of respect in scholarly circles for Gothic fiction. By 1927, the last of the lost Gothics, The Orphan of the Rhine, had found a home and patron in Sadleir’s collection. Previously, in 1923, Sadleir’s Gothic quest for the Northanger titles and the enlargement of his Gothic collection gained impetus by way of a chance friendship with Arthur Hutchinson, clubman of the Omar Khayyam Club, conversationalist, raconteur, amateur collector and litterateur, editor of the Windsor Magazine and ceaseless scavenger of old books of any and every sort. Like Sadleir, Hutchinson was a bibliomaniac, but his bibliomania, unlike Sadleir’s, took the peculiar form of undirected and undisciplined book accumulation. Hutchinson foraged for books not caring what he found so long as they were old novels and so long as he possessed them in vast quantities. Driven by his gluttony for books as material items, Hutchinson had the acquisitive spirit of the true collector, but lacked literary inquisitiveness. It was the spines, wrappers, covers, and boards of his books which gratified Hutchinson more than their contents which he seldom examined. This Dickensian character who might have been a reincarnated resident of Mr. Brogley’s cluttered pawnshop in Dombey and Son, this “queer” and “omnivorous” collector whose “lust for fiction was uncontrolled either by selective design or problems of space”13 as Sadleir himself described his friend, bought up batches of novels on a daily basis, placing his random buys in packing crates stuffed with other miscellaneous items including railroad timetables and back numbers of periodicals on every subject imaginable. Hutchinson filled box after box until at the time of his death in 1927 this old novel maniac had amassed a bizarre literary estate of 140 packing cases, an enthusiast’s primal hodgepodge. Somewhere in the depths of the Hutchinson “library”–to use the term very loosely–somewhere within these crates of unsorted books lay the disarranged corpus of what would become the Sadleir-Black Gothic collection. Here too was the Gothic gold mine, but its wealth would not yield itself easily. When Sadleir was named executor of the Hutchinson library upon Hutchinson’s death in August 1927, he could only ponder “what a tremendous and in some ways macabre task had been laid upon me.”14 Sadleir describes his first viewing of the entire Hutchinson library in a scene suggestive of a Gothic victim’s helpless awe during a spectral encounter or facing a premature burial.

I shall never forget the first sight of that astonishing collection. After sending our credentials to the repository and fixing a time for a preliminary view, we asked for certain sample cases to be unpacked in readiness for the visit. Having arrived at the huge building, we were conducted to a sort of mezzanine floor–low ceilinged and in complete darkness. There were 140 packing cases of books, of which a random dozen or fifteen had been unpacked. We were given torches and left to investigate. The rays of light flickered across the vast floor on which–spines upward–were ranged row after row of books. It looked as though an over-floor of books had been laid down, with the narrowest passages here and there through which we crept, flashing our torches on title after title, and feeling every moment more appalled at the prospect of having to sort these thousands of volumes and prepare them for sale. For they were completely unclassified and desperately miscellaneous; quite half were still parcelled and would have to be undone and distributed before even a start could be made. Out in the daylight my colleague and I stared at one another in despair. What in the world were we to do?15

Somewhere in this disarray of books and unknown to Hutchinson himself was concealed the four-volume body of The Orphan of the Rhine–but where? As Sadleir faced the labor of sorting and organization he confronted the is-it-here?-and-if-so-where? problem repeatedly. The veins of Gothic gold would first have to be detected, then assiduously mined if any coherence at all were to be imposed upon the Hutchinson library. And to add to Sadleir’s consternation, many three- and four-volume novel sets had been randomly separated by Hutchinson. If, for example, the first two volumes of The Orphan of the Rhine had filled a case to the top, then volumes three and four might have been consigned to another unnumbered box with no regard for sequence. Add to this the fact that there was no order or dating whatsoever among the boxes and therefore no way to determine whether Hutchinson had purchased all volumes of a multi-volumed novel or only fragments. Sadleir would just have to endure these dilemmas of identification as he began the process of classification and ranking that would occupy many months of eerie sequestration alone within the maze of the Hutchinson library. Because Sadleir could not anticipate what each box might contain, each moment of unpacking prolonged the tedium but offered the potential thrill of discovery. “Stultified with fatigue and dust, and feeling I never wanted to see a book again, I was listlessly unpacking perhaps the hundredth packing case when my jaded intelligence suddenly awoke to the fact that I was holding in my hand the four volumes of The Orphan of the Rhine. Hutchinson, though he did not know it, had had a copy after all.”16 Similar moments would unearth some of the rare artifacts now the pride of the collection. Sadleir found most of the Gothics written by Francis Lathom including The Midnight Bell, several first editions of The Monk, the delicate volume of Mrs. Radcliffe’s poems, Jane Porter’s Thaddeus of Warsaw in first-rate condition with uncut boards, Lady Morgan’s [Sidney Owenson’s] The Novice of St. Dominick in opulent green morocco boards, ghoulish Gothics by the followers of Monk Lewis, lachrymose Gothics by the imitators of Mrs. Radcliffe, and an abundance of thirty-six and seventy- two page shilling shocker chapbooks, the Gothic novel in its most fragile and transient form. 17 There were bookplates bearing the ex libri of Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Samuel Whitbread, a prominent member of Charles James Fox’s ministry. The large number of novels by Eliza Parsons, Regina Maria Roche, Elizabeth Helme, the Lee Sisters, Charlotte Smith, Charlotte Dacre [Rosa Matilda], Mary Charlton, and clusters of other forgotten favorites who had operated as Gothic novelist stringers for the Minerva Press reassured Sadleir of the uniqueness of his legacy. Once they had been reassembled, classified, and repaired by Sadleir, these books would come to constitute what may be the nucleus of the Sadleir-Black Gothic collection, its extensive holdings of minor and lost Gothics. In some boxes, Sadleir found Germanic variations of the Gothic novel in the form of Ritterand Rauberromane, Schauerromane, and French translations of the Gothic penned by the emigres during the 1790s together with specimens of the roman noir or French Gothic novel by Ducray-Duminil, Baculard d’Arnaud, and Madame Genlis 18 Hutchinson’s eclectic tastes in book covers was also evident in his ownership of Schiller’s Der Geisterseher, Christiane Naubert’s novel of the secret Fehmic tribunal or Vehmgericht, Hermann von Unna, and several splendidly lugubrious thrillers by Joseph Alois Gleich, in whose shrill craft the Schauerroman or German shudder novel attained its zenith. When the task of exhumation was completed and the waste discarded, Sadleir would have a residue consisting of more than a thousand titles embracing all forms of Gothic activity over a fifty-year span. All seven Northanger novels were now verified and descriptively catalogued. All that Sadleir’s collection lacked were a permanent accommodation which would provide accessibility and an audience of general readers and scholarly specialists who would care enough about this fugitive genre to reread and revaluate it.

Robert Kerr Black, the third principal in the saga, would attend to these needs. Black had been introduced to Gothic literature at the University of Virginia by Professor Archibald Shepperson, whose witty account of the satiric face of the novel, The Novel in Motley: A History of the Burlesque Novel in English (1936), offered an amusing and informative history of the Gothic movement and its susceptibility to parody in the chapter “Gothic Nonsense.”19 Black’s original interest in the Gothic was by way of Shepperson’s admiration for such pastiches as Eaton Stannard Barrett’s aggressive burlesque, The Heroine; or, The Adventures of a Fair Romance Reader, R. S.’s The New Monk, a sentence-by-sentence excoriation of Lewis’s work, Thomas Love Peacock’s Nightmare Abbey, Dennis Lawler’s mock Gothic drama, The Earls of Hammersmith; or, The Cellar Spectre and, of course, Northanger Abbey. The parodies of the Gothic novel in Sadleir-Black are Black’s most vital contributions to the collection. One of the most skillful lampoons in Sadleir-Black is Bove and Horror: An imitation for the Present and a Model for All Future Romances, bearing the cryptic pseudonym, “Ircastrensis.”20

As a collector, Black’s favorite quarry was Gothic satire in novelistic and dramatic form. In the late fall of 1937, he queried the bookseller, George Bates, a small dealer in the lower Haymarket, in an attempt to obtain Eaton Stannard Barrett’s Heroine and anything else that might possibly be considered a Gothic pastiche. Bates and Black developed a bibliophile friendship centered around rare books, particularly Gothic books, a special interest that would eventually lead Black to Michael Sadleir and his archive of remarkable oddities. “‘Have you ever heard of Michael Sadleir’s fine collection of Gothic novels?’ Bates asked. ‘I replied truthfully that I had–once,’ Black responded. ‘Did you know it was for sale?’ I had not known and I showed my provincial Americanism by immediately and idly inquiring: ‘How much?”21

Bates arranged a meeting with Sadleir, a proposal was made, and Robert K. Black became sole owner of the collection for an undisclosed price. Why did Sadleir sell his so preciously refined Gothic gold? There were two reasons, neither involving monetary concerns. First, for all of his scrupulous searching and selecting, Sadleir’s Gothic collecting habit was a recessive passion assuaged by his completion of the Northanger set and a renewal of his central bibliographical commitments to the Trollopes. By the mid- 1930s, his bibliographical objectives in the Gothic field had been attained. In the 1940s and up until his death in 1957, he would write scholarly studies of Wassily Kandinsky, Herman Melville’s prose, James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan trilogy, Victorian railroad fiction, Bulwer-Lytton, and the political career of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, subject areas far removed from Gothicism. Second, Sadleir certainly sensed in Robert K. Black the ideal custodian and successor for the care and dispersion of such unusual and irreplaceable books. Black grasped both the material and intellectual worth of the Sadleir Gothics and their potential value to a future acceleration of Gothic studies. Black’s academic connection with the University of Virginia was an additional assurance that Sadleir’s Gothic collection would not be privately hidden away but have public scholarly accessibility

Concentrating on gaps left by Hutchinson and Sadleir, Black purchased and added Beckford’s Vathek and Shelley’s juvenile Gothics which Sadleir had desired but could not afford, St. Irvyne; or, The Rosicrucian and Zastrozzi. Oddly, neither Hutchinson’s crates nor Sadleir’s lucky acquisitions contained the 1818 edition of Frankenstein, or Northanger Abbey, or any editions of any one of the Reverend Charles Robert Maturin’s six novels. Among the approximately one hundred items appended by Black was a copy of The Mysteries of Udolpho bearing the bookplate of Elizabeth Shelley, the mother of the poet. Black’s own Gothic explorations turned up the publisher’s contract for five hundred pounds for Udolpho signed by Mrs. Radcliffe, this document found in the basement of a book dealer in Newark, New Jersey. He further enhanced the collection by installing several critical documents including Jakob Brauchli’s first primary bibliography of the Gothic novel, Der Englische Schauerroman um 1800.22

By 1942, Black’s role as informal curator and preserver of the Collection had run its course. Care and storage were immediate problems while the acid base composition of the paper meant that many of the Gothics, perhaps appropriate for a genre which indulged in so much desolation and decay, was almost visibly decomposing. Having been literally read to pieces two centuries earlier, the surviving relics were now confronted by another disintegration. Hence, Black’s decision to give the collection to the University of Virginia was both an intellectually natural and a scientifically expedient gesture. Black decided to establish a viable, working collection of rare books, not wishing to see Sadleir’s magnificent archive of forbidden titles gradually destroyed by lack of proper care.

From this account of its formation, the nature and scope of the Sadleir- Black collection as well as its incalculable usefulness to researchers can be discerned. Even the disposable titles which the collection retains have their value for what they can reveal about publishers’ practices and the idiosyncracies of late-eighteenth-century readership. Perhaps it was for this reason that both Sadleir and Black did not eliminate all of the trash Gothic which the Hutchinson library contained, but reserved some aptly chosen representative samples in order to render as accurate a picture as possible of the huge and quirkish Gothic audience and its needs. Hence, not every single holding in the collection can be considered high Gothic, but the majority of the books do fall into this category either directly or marginally, which means that Sadleir-Black offers a purity of period and subject matter that surpasses more amorphous collections of its type. The holdings can be subdivided into discrete categories: first editions of the front rank Gothic writers who comprise the inner circle of Gothicism, Walpole, Clara Reeve, Beckford, Mrs. Radcliffe, Lewis, and Maturin; complete or nearly complete runs of the satellites of the great Gothics; second-level Gothic fiction by William Henry Ireland, Charlotte Dacre, T. J. Horsley Curties, Elizabeth Helme, Mary Meeke, George Moore, and Mary Robinson; tertiary and residual Gothics or shoddy imitations and straight plagiarisms; non-Gothic eighteenth- century fiction with strong Gothic overtones in style, plot, and characterization, such as the Jacobin and doctrinaire work of William Godwin, Robert Bage, and Thomas Holcroft; pastiches, parodies, and lampoons; French and German Schauerromane or “shudder novels”; miscellanies, annuals, keepsakes, and anthologies; and finally, the collection’s extensive array of short Gothics in pamphlet format, the bluebooks, chapbooks, yellowbacks, shilling shockers, thirty- six and seventy-two page pulps and bloods, and serialized and periodical Gothics.

It is perhaps this chapbook element of the Sadleir-Black collection which draws the researcher rather than its ponderous triple-decker Gothics with their casual slaughters, serpentine plots, and complex turnings of the screw. The collection’s chapbooks clearly indicate acute shifts in the tastes and expectations of the Gothic readership. As early as the 1790s as these primitive paperbacks began to seep into the system, the Gothic novel in long form as it was being mass produced by the Minerva Press was already becoming an endangered species. Gothic readers would still tolerate such performances as Agnes Maria Bennett’s Gothic behemoth in six volumes, Vicissitudes Abroad; or, The Ghost of My Father 23 published in 1806; but by eliminating all moralism and by pushing the characters along a corridor of blood and bringing them either to the altar or the grave within the alloted thirty-six pages, the chapbookers would eventually drive out such lengthy Gothics and corner the market. Their phantasmic titles coupled with the garish vigor of their illustrations offered their devoted public instantaneous horror that the long Gothics could not match. It did not matter that almost every shilling shocker was a plagiarized reduction of The Monk or one of Mrs. Radcliffe’s romances or a tawdry compression of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, Macbeth, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, or Cymbeline.

Statistically, the tally of chapbooks in Sadleir-Black validates that the national lust for the macabre in literature reached its apogee between 1810 and 1815 and extended well into the Romantic movement. Because only a small fraction of these little Gothics survive, we can only speculate about their grand totals in the period as the Gothic impulse accelerated toward critical mass in the 1810s. As he investigated Hutchinson’s boxes, Sadleir must have been particularly alert to the chapbookers since the collection contains more than two hundred specimens of these abbreviated Gothic thrillers. Sadleir also realized that a typical bluebooker was often employed by several rapacious publishers simultaneously to fill their quotas of Gothics. One typical bluebooker, Isaac Crookenden, appears to have marketed the same plot to several rival publishers under variant titles, among these, The Skeleton; or, The Mysterious Discovery, A Gothic Romance, The Spectre of the Turret; or, Guolto Castle, and Horrible Revenge; or, The Monster of Italy!! Two anonymous chapbooks in the collection, The Midnight Groan; or, The Spectre of the Chapel, Involving an Exposure of the Horrible Secrets of the Nocturnal Assembly, A Gothic Romance and The Bloody Hand; or, The Fatal Cup, A Tale of Horrors are plagiarisms of prior plagiarisms in the chapbook trade. The drudge-and-sludge component of Sadleir-Black also reflects Sadleir’s interest in Victorian proletarian horror fiction as represented in the collection’s samples of the pulp publisher Edward Lloyd’s chain novels putatively authored by Thomas Peckett Prest, creator of Varney the Vampyre; however, Varney itself is not to be found in Sadleir-Black.

Although the full-sized Gothics in Sadleir-Black are often elegantly bound and well-preserved, they are generally not, with a few exceptions from among the French and German translations, lavishly illustrated. The practice of Gothic illustration 24 is an area of lurid special effects restricted almost exclusively to the chapbooks and bluebooks. Fearsome engravings and woodcuts of variant artistic quality adorn numerous title pages and frontispieces and sometimes embellish the text at ten- or twelve-page intervals. It was the illustrator’s task to select the most emetic, erotic, or sensationally supernatural episode in the chapbook, then pictorialize it to lure the Gothic consumer. If no such satisfactory horrific event could be located by the illustrator, the artist then fabricated his own. Thus, the connection between an illustration and a corresponding textual event is sometimes mysterious or nonexistent. In a few cases, the illustrations approach the nightmare brilliance of Fuseli, Goya, or Dore, but mainly they reflect a crassly promotional group style. The prototypical Gothic cover picture depicting the maiden in flight down a staircase or dark path as she glances hysterically over her left shoulder is a pictorial cliche of the Gothic illustrators.

© 1998 by Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture