Monday, 4 November 2013

Female authors of gothic, horror, fantasy & science fiction (part 2)

Continuing the expose on female authors, this week sees us move into the 19th century with the following recommendations:

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) - Her father was a Unitarian minister in Failsworth and although born down south was soon moved back up north and raised in Cheshire, eventually marrying in Knutsford to another Unitarian minister and settling in Manchester. Elizabeth also had connections, socialising with the likes of Dickens and Charlotte Brontë and having the conductor Charles Halle teach her daughter piano. Next summer you should be able to visit her home, 84 Plymouth Grove in Longsight, after extensive renovations by The Gaskell Society. Whilst famous for writing works such as Cranford (1851-3) and North and South (1854-5), Elizabeth also wrote some chilling tales. Novellas and short stories such as The Old Nurse’s Story (1852), Lois The Witch (1861) and Disappearances (1851) can be found in collections such as Penguin’s Gothic Tales (2000).

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) - Starting to turn the gothic exploration from outward horror to inner turmoil, Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre (1847). That novel includes childhood terrors, nocturnal incidents, an isolated building, a pursued young heroine and a dark Byronic hero - gothic indeed.

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) - Her only novel, Wuthering Heights (1847), is a gothic staple and his inspired many other artists (notably Kate Bush). While not clearly supernatural, it includes many gothic elements, such as a tyrannical father, imprisonment and escape, a dangerous suitor, revenge, adverse weather, bleak landscape and so on.

Enid Blyton (1897-1968) - Well known for children’s book series like The Famous Five (21 novels from 1942-1963) and The Secret Seven (15 novels from 1949-1963), Enid just creeps into this section, although only 3 years old when we leave the 19th century. Her inclusion is for bringing fantasy to life with series like The Wishing Chair (2 novels & a short story compilation, 1937, 1950 & 2000) and The Faraway Tree (4 novels from 1939-1951).

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