Great Moments in Gothic Fiction: A History in 13 Books

otranto18th Century: Birth of the Gothic

Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, generally considered to be the first Gothic novel, opens with the fatal fall of a cursed helmet from the rafters of a castle and goes on to feature mistaken identities, imprisonment, etc. What made this novel unique was the way it married fantastical romance elements found in poetry and other forms with the realism of the new novel form. Walpole placed real people in fantastical situations, which is the basis of most contemporary horror.