The epigraph to this chapter comes from the pen of a relatively unknown female author who both wrote Gothic novels and satirized them, closely following the literary market’s appetite for Gothic fiction. Sarah Green’s preface to her satirical work
Romance Readers and Romance Writers
(1810) mocks a culture apparently plagued by the
— the stubborn disease of writing — and mischievously implies that producing Gothic Romance is a both costly and presumptuous exercise: presumptuous, because women authors lacked ‘genius’; costly, because women often had to pay for the publication of their Romances. While the accusation of vanity publishing may have been true in the case of a few individuals, her generalization belies the extent to which female authors of Romance dominated the literary marketplace in the 1790s. Thomas Talfourd (1785–1854), for example, in his
Life and Writings of Mrs Radcliffe
(1826), acknowledged that:
■ The pecuniary advantages, which [Mrs Radcliffe] derived from her works … were considerable, according to the fashion of the times. For ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ she received from Messrs. Robinson £500.; a sum then so unusually large for a work of fiction, that Mr. Cadell, who had great experience in such matters, on hearing the statement, offered a wager of £10. that it was untrue. By the Italian, although considerably shorter, she acquired about the sum of £800.