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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, Catholicism, and the Visual Arts

7th November 2017, 18:15 to 19:15, Elvet Riverside 141, Clare Haynes (University of East Anglia)

Discover how Horace Walpole brought Catholic culture back into fashion in Britain, at this lecture in our series Horace Walpole and his Legacies. Join the conversation via #WalpoleLegacies.

Walpole spent a great deal of his life engaging with Catholic culture in one way or another: collecting, and writing admiringly about, Catholic art; using Gothic ornament so extensively at Strawberry Hill and in his friendship with Roman Catholics, such as the Duchess of Norfolk. And yet, Walpole was very clearly not a crypto-Catholic. He sounded his antipathy to the church and its teachings frequently, and often stridently.

His position may therefore seem paradoxical, perhaps even perverse, but it was not. Focusing on his writings about art, this paper explores Walpole’s attitudes towards the past, and particularly the Reformation. It proposes that one of the central concerns of Walpole’s scholarship was to encourage the re-naturalization of art in post-Reformation Britain.

Image credit: Sassoferrato (1609-1689), Madonna & Child, Hermitage.

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

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