Rare letter discovered by chance in archive reveals fraught family matters strikingly akin to one of her plots
Confirmed keynote speakers:
Emma Clery, University of Southampton
Fred Botting, Kingston University
Jane Stabler, University of St Andrews
Organising committee: Angela Wright (Sheffield), Dale Townshend (Stirling); Madeleine Callaghan (Sheffield); Andy Smith (Sheffield); Liam Firth (Sheffield); Fern Merrills (Sheffield); Hamish Mathison (Sheffield); Joe Bray (Sheffield); Mark Bennett (Sheffield); Kate Gadsby-Mace (Sheffield)
More than any other writer, Ann Radcliffe consolidated, enriched and developed the form of the romantic novel in British fiction during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. For many, in fact, her name was synonymous with romantic fiction in its entirety: as Sir Walter Scott in his retrospective appraisal of her work in 1826 put it, “Mrs Radcliffe has a title to be considered as the first poetess of romantic fiction” (Williams 1970, p. 103); of all authors, Scott continued, Ann Radcliffe has “the most decided claim to take her place among the favoured few, who have been distinguished as the founders of a class, or school’” . In Thomas De Quincey’s words, Radcliffe was ‘The Great Enchantress’, and as countless published responses to her work attest, this perception of the writer’s almost supernatural powers of description seems to have prevailed among most of her contemporary readers.