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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

Composers of Architecture: Walpole and Beckford

24th October 2017, 18:15 to 19:15, Elvet Riverside Room 141, Marion Harney (University of Bath)

Horace Walpole and William Beckford were two highly original architects and writers. Wander through the built world of the eighteenth century at this free public lecture, part of the series Horace Walpole and his Legacies. Join the conversation via #WalpoleLegacies.

Horace Walpole and William Beckford share a page in English architectural and literary history. Both created highly original Gothic buildings and novels; Walpole the renowned Strawberry Hill and the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto; Beckford, Fonthill Abbey and Vathek. Innovative constructs of the imagination they represent autobiographical expressions of the complex psychology of their unorthodox creators. This paper explores the significant influence on Beckford of Walpole’s architectural and associative concepts of Gothic as a means of self-expression and self-dramatization facilitated through the creation of a sequence of dynamic spatial spaces, theatrical contexts and visual and sensory experience that provoke and stimulate the imagination. Walpole’s aesthetic legacy is explored through the synergies between Walpole and Beckford as composers of architecture and Romantic interior design as a means of expressing their personality, antiquarian motives, and the display of collections, scenic effects and architectural taste.

Image credit: A cross section of Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire, England from John Rutter's Delineations of Fonthill (1823), via Wikimedia Commons.

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

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