Radcliffe, Mrs. Ann (Ward)

(1764-1823)
   Novelist, only dau. of parents in a respectable position, in 1787 m. Mr. William Radcliffe, ed. and proprietor of a weekly newspaper, the English Chronicle. In 1789 she pub. her first novel, The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne, of which the scene is laid in Scotland. It, however, gave little promise of the future power of the author. In the following year appeared The Sicilian Romance, which attracted attention by its vivid descriptions and startling incidents. Next came The Romance of the Forest (1791), followed by The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), and The Italian (1797), a story of the Inquisition, the last of her works pub. during her life-time. Gaston de Blondeville, ed. by Sergeant Talfourd, was brought out posthumously. Mrs. R. has been called the Salvator Rosa of British novelists. She excels in the description of scenes of mystery and terror whether of natural scenery or incident: in the former displaying a high degree of imaginative power, and in the latter great ingenuity and fertility of invention. She had, however, little power of delineating character. Though her works belong to a type now out of fashion, they will always possess an historical interest as marking a stage in the development of English fiction.

Short biographical dictionary of English literature . . 2011.

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