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The Mysteries of Udolpho

Ann Radcliffe


The Mysteries of Udolpho is Ann Radcliffe’s fourth novel, first published in four volumes in 1794. It’s a typical gothic novel: set in a large castle which experiences supposedly-supernatural events, a cruel and cunning villain is opposed by a young, virtuous heroine, who experiences great terror in the hands of her adversary.

Emily St. Aubert, the novel’s protagonist, loses her parents and is placed in the care of her aunt, who unwittingly puts her in great danger. Emily must outwit the count Montoni, her late guardian’s husband and a cruel and manipulating man, who attempts to deceive and coerce her. The hope of returning to her home in France and being reunited with her suitor Valancourt gives her the strength she needs to oppose the count’s schemes.

The novel was parodied by Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey, where that novel’s protagonist draws parallels between Udolpho and the people around her.

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