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Female Gothic Histories

Gender, History and the Gothic

Female Gothic Histories is an important new study of the ways in which women writers have used the gothic novel to symbolize and counter their exclusion from traditional historical narratives. Beginning with a detailed reading of Sophia Lee’s critically neglected The Recess, one of the earliest historical gothic fictions, Diana Wallace traces the development of this form from works by Elizabeth Gaskell, Vernon Lee, Daphne du Maurier, and the modern gothics of Victoria Holt, to the phenomenally popular novels of Sarah Waters.

272 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2013

Gothic Literary Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Women's Studies

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Female Gothic Histories expertly traces the roots of historical fiction to women writing long before Walter Scott, engagingly establishing a female genealogy of gothic historical fiction from the eighteenth century to the present. Wallace is an undisputed authority in the field, and her new book is indispensable for anyone interested in women’s traditions of writing and with their links to the gothic imagination.”

Mary Joannou, Anglia Ruskin University

“In Female Gothic Histories, Diana Wallace provides a powerful account of the centrality of historical fiction to the evolution of the Gothic. In the process, she rewrites the story of the origins of the historical novel. The finely argued and nuanced case studies—ranging from Sophia Lee in the eighteenth century to Sarah Waters in the twenty-first—will cause us to reflect again upon both genres and the intriguing ways in which their genealogies intertwine.”

Lynne Pearce, Lancaster University

Table of Contents


1. Introduction
2. The Murder of the Mother: Sophia Lee’s The Recess (1783–5)
3. Be-witched and Ghosted: Elizabeth Gaskell’s Gothic Historical Tales
4. Puzzling over the Past: Vernon Lee’s Fantastic Stories
5. Displacing the Past: Daphne du Maurier and the Modern Gothic
6. Queer as History: Sarah Waters’s Gothic Historical Novels

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