Saturday, September 24, 2011

Horace Walpole

Horace Walpole, writer and politician, was born on September 24, 1717.  Horace was the son of Prime Minister Robert Walpole.

Horace Walpole published his first novel much as Walter Scott did; anonymously.  “The Castle of Otranto” was published in 1764.  Of this work, Scott (“Miscellaneous Prose Works”) said:
‘The Castle of Otranto is remarkable, not only for the wild interest of the story, but as the first modern attempt to found a tale of amusing fiction upon the basis of the ancient romances of chivalry. The neglect and discredit of these venerable legends had commenced so early as the reign of queen Elizabeth, when, as we learn from the criticism of the times, Spenser's fairy web was approved rather on account of the mystic and allegorical interpretation, than the plain and obvious meaning of his chivalrous pageant. The drama, which shortly afterwards rose into splendour, and English versions from the innumerable novelists of Italy, supplied to the higher class the amusement which their fathers received from the legends of Don Belianis and the Mirror of Knighthood; and the huge volumes, which were once the pastime of nobles and princes, shorn of their ornaments, and shrunk into abridgements, were banished to the kitchen or nursery, or, at best, to the hall-window of the old-fashioned country manor house….’

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