Strawberry Hill

Eighteenth-century Gothic fiction actually begins with architecture, with Horace Walpole's transformation of Strawberry Hill, his famous Gothic creation on the Thames, into the famous haunted castle of his The Castle of Otranto (1764). Every Gothic tale thereafter, regardless of the specific setting, lavishes attention on the architectural details of halls, chambers, closets, cabinets, stairways, secret passages, and dungeons — the experiences of terror are inseparable from the floors, walls, ceilings, doors, windows, and screens enclosing them. Here, from Walpole's 1784 Description of the Villa of Mr. Horace Walpole, Youngest Son of Sir Robert Walpole Earl of Orford, at Strawberry-Hill near Twickenham, Middlesex, with an Inventory of the Furniture, Pictures, Curiosities, &c., are five engraved illustrations showing (top row, left) the north front of the building; (right) the main entrance; (middle row, left) a staircase; (right) the library; and (bottom row) a small room called a cabinet.

 

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