This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.
Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.
Creativity and Collaboration: The Case of The Mysterious Mother
With its themes of incest and horror, Horace Walpole's gothic drama was certainly compelling. Explore more in this free public lecture from our Walpole and His Legacies series. Join the conversation via #WalpoleLegacies.
Incestuous sexuality, clerical corruption, and horrors piling implacably upon horrors: Horace Walpole’s Gothic tragedy, The Mysterious Mother (1768), is one of the most extraordinary closet dramas of the eighteenth century. Though unperformed—and perhaps even ‘unperformable’—in its own day, the play was nonetheless highly influential upon Gothic writing, both dramatic and fictional, towards the end of the century, its outrageous subject matter only rivaled by such later Romantic works as John Polidori’s Ernestus Berchtold (1819) and P. B. Shelley’s The Cenci (1819). The circumstances surrounding the conceptualization, writing, and eventual publication of The Mysterious Mother are as intriguing as the play itself, and have much to tell us about Horace Walpole’s approach to such crucial matters as collaboration, gender, sexuality, ‘genius’, and the process of literary creation. Drawing upon a range of visual, archival, and lesser-known published resources, this lecture offers a fresh consideration of Walpole’s understudied drama, reassessing not only its place within the writer’s oeuvre, but its relation to the history of Gothic and Romantic literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries more generally.
Image credit: Illustration for The Mysterious Mother, by Lady Diana Beauclerk (1776). Reproduced courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.
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Research in English At Durham (READ) blog showcasing the the literary research emerging from the Department of English Studies
We host a large number of conferences, lectures and seminars each year, many of them open to the public. Find out more on our Events page.
Many of our public lectures, seminars and conferences are recorded, and can be listened to as podcasts.
- 20th January 2021
- Sensory Experiments in Nineteenth-Century Literature
- Online (Zoom)
- Dr Erica Fretwell (University of Albany) and Dr Shannon Draucker (Siena College)