Dr. Frederick S. Frank is Professor Emeritus of English at Allegheny College. He earned his Ph.D. at Rutgers University. He has taught at Rutgers, Boston University, and Allegheny College. Dr. Frank’s books include The First Gothics: A Critical Guide to the English Gothic Novel (1987), The Poe Encyclopedia (1997), Gothic Writers: A Critical and Bibliographical Guide (2002), and three Guides to the Gothic (1984, 1995, 2005).
2006 0-7734-5619-8 Originally published in 1947, Bertrand Evans’ landmark study of the Gothic drama during its most definitive and dominant period (1760s to 1820s) was a first scholarly attempt to formulate a discrete canon of Gothic plays, to trace the literary history of Gothic drama as an influential form of theatre, and to explain the relationship between the Gothic spirit on stage and the Gothic spirit in the novel. Working with the scripts and the licenser’s copies of the plays in the Larpent Collection in the Huntington Library, Evans identified and classified more than one hundred specimens of Gothic theatre written between Horace Walpole’s first Gothic drama, The Mysterious Mother, in 1768, and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s The Cenci in 1817. Evans was also the first investigator to offer a working definition of Gothic drama, viewing it as a theatre of extremes whose primary goal was to stun and shock the audience with spectacular supernatural audiovisual paraphernalia and effects.
In compiling a literary history of Gothic theatre, Evans not only re-examined the dramatic experiments of major Gothic writers such as Matthew Gregory “Monk” Lewis and Charles Robert Maturin, but also reinstated such ignored Gothic playwrights as Joanna Baillie, devoting a separate chapter to her work. In the closing chapter of his study, Evans opened up new areas of inquiry by evaluating the Gothic dramas of the Romantic poets Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron and Shelley, and posed provocative questions about the connections between Gothicism and Romanticism, the answers to which are still being sought today. This re-edition assesses the importance of Evans’ monograph as an imperative critical starting point for students of the Gothic by providing an introduction, updated and expanded endnotes that reflect the growing interest in Gothic theatre, an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary materials that is current to 2005, and an index of names, titles and subjects, such as motifs of the Gothic stage.