Origins of the Modern Study of Gothic Drama,

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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.


“It is the sign of maturity when a scholarly field has produced enough work that it can return to an examination of its origins. Such is the case now with the study of Gothic drama ... Those of us working in the field have had few scholarly resources to consult, but all of us know that no scholarship is done without consulting the originating study in the field. Dr. Frederick Frank, the most important bibliographer and editor of all things Gothic, has had the vision to reedit and reissue R. Bertrand Evans’s seminal study, Gothic Drama from Walpole to Shelley. This modern reprint makes available for the first time a completely reedited text, with important corrections and additions made to Evans’s 1947 study ... It is important to note the fine editorial work of Dr. Frank. He has added notes, provided a bibliography in secondary sources that did not exist at the time Evans was working, and updated all bibliographical citations for primary works. This book will be an invaluable addition to any college or university library, particularly where courses in Gothic Fiction and Drama are offered.” – (from the Preface) Professor Diane Long Hoeveler, Marquette University

Table of Contents

Preface; Acknowledgements; Introduction
1. Evans’ Original Introduction
2. Antecedents and Beginnings
3. The First Gothic Plays
4. Adaptation and Burlesque
5. Full Development of Gothic Drama Before 1792
6. Ann Radcliffe and Gothic Drama
7. Gothic and German Drama
8. Lewis and Gothic Drama
9. Gothic Drama and Melodrama
10. Gothic Acting Drama, 1801-1816
11. Joanna Baillie and Gothic Drama
12. Gothic Survival in Literary Drama
Appendix A: A List of Gothic Plays

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