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Department of English Studies

Horace Walpole and His Legacies: Tercentenary Lectures

Horace Walpole (1717-1797) was a man of remarkably diverse talents: novelist, art historian, dramatist, designer, collector, man of letters, and politician.

Today he is most famous for writing the first novel to call itself 'A Gothic Story', The Castle of Otranto, and for creating the neo-Gothic Strawberry Hill house in London. However, Walpole’s legacy can be traced across many fields that give a flavour of the culture and politics of the eighteenth century. Join us at this series of free public lectures to discover more; participate online by tweeting #WalpoleLegacies.

All lectures are on Tuesdays, 18.15–19.15, in Elvet Riverside Room 141. There is no need to book. The convenor is Professor Fiona Robertson.

Next Lecture

Walpole as Designer

17th October 2017, 18:15 to 19:15, Elvet Riverside Room 141, Peter N. Lindfield (University of Stirling)

Enter the marvellous world of Strawberry Hill, a revolutionary neo-Gothic house designed by Horace Walpole. Join the conversation about our series Walpole and His Legacies via #WalpoleLegacies.

Horace Walpole’s little Gothic castle, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, a villa that he framed as the ‘Castle of my ancestors’, has been subject to repeated study over the past century. His infamous ‘Strawberry Committee’, incorrectly known as the ‘Committee of Taste’, was a group of male friends tasked with designing the house’s various facets, including its exterior and interior architecture, architectural decoration, and furniture. Walpole himself was at the helm of this architectural project: he actively approved of, rejected, or referred designs for reworking. He has been treated as the supervising authority regulating the house’s development, rather than a designer in his own right. What has emerged recently is that Walpole was actively generating proposals for the house, especially its internal architectural decoration, and furniture.

This lecture presents and marshals Walpole’s designs the house, almost all of which were unexecuted. It illustrates how Walpole’s involvement in Strawberry Hill’s design responded to, but also reacted against, the proposals offered by his Strawberry Committee.

Image credit: Design for the Ceiling in the Library at Strawberry Hill, by Horace Walpole (1754). Reproduced courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

Contact fiona.robertson@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.


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