[[quoteright:350:[[{{TabletopGame/Ravenloft}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/vampire_art_936.jpg]]]]

Gothic Horror is one of the oldest of the {{horror}} genres. [[DarkerAndEdgier Darker, edgier]] and on the {{Romanticism}} end of RomanticismVersusEnlightenment, it tends to play on both the thrill and the fear of the unknown, and places a great importance on atmosphere. It's usually heavily [[RuleOfSymbolism symbolic]], sometimes even dreamlike. In addition to being important to the horror genre, the first {{scifi}}, {{fantasy}}, {{romance}}, [[MysteryFiction mystery]], and {{adventure}} authors drew inspiration from Gothic horror, so it's sometimes considered the parent of all modern genre fiction.

Gothic fiction is usually used as a synonym or is the name given to Gothic horror stories that are saturated with the above mentioned scifi, fantasy, romance, mystery, or adventure elements.

The name "Gothic" comes from a kind of architecture from TheMiddleAges (christened as such by those who considered it barbaric in comparison to classical architecture, the name coming from the barbarian tribe of the Goths). There were a lot of Gothic ruins lying around Britain, and people in the 18th and 19th centuries developed an interest in them because (a) ruins are always kind of mysterious and melancholy and creepy and (b) they evoked the time period they were built in, which was thought of as a [[TheDungAges barbaric]] time where people believed in (and did) all kinds of weird stuff. For this reason, most early Gothic horror novels were set in that era. They were usually also set in Catholic countries, because the Brits who wrote them [[ValuesDissonance considered Catholicism]] [[ReligionOfEvil sinister]] ([[EvilIsCool yet also kinda cool]]).

The renewed interest in Gothic stuff also led to the Gothic Revival movement in architecture, but for the purposes of this article we're not so interested in that.

Horace Walpole's ''Literature/TheCastleOfOtranto'', written in 1764, is considered the first Gothic horror novel. Walpole was a big fan of Creator/WilliamShakespeare and proudly declared that [[TheZerothLawOfTropeExamples he borrowed most of the tropes from]] his idol's plays, particularly ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'', ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'', and ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet''. Ann Radcliffe helped popularize the genre, and authors such as Matthew Lewis, Ludwig Flammenberg, Eliza Parsons, Eleanor Sleath, and Francis Lathom finished out the eighteenth century Gothic horror writers. The beginning of the nineteenth century saw Gothic horror being parodied by authors like Creator/JaneAusten, but there were still straight examples provided by authors such as Creator/LordByron and Creator/MaryShelley. By the time the [[UsefulNotes/VictorianBritain Victorian era]] rolled around Gothic horror was beginning to run out of steam, but there were still quite a few people writing it -- in fact, most of the Gothic horror authors and works you've heard of probably come from this era, such as Creator/EdgarAllanPoe and the Brontë sisters. There were a few more notable Gothic authors in the early 20th century, but by the 1950s or so the genre had given way to modern {{Horror}}.

The CosmicHorrorGenre is something of a SpiritualSuccessor to Gothic Horror, with the genre's codifier Creator/HPLovecraft explicitly listing several masters of Gothic Horror as major influences. Where Gothic Horror drew upon classical mythology and legend to provide its nightmares, however, Cosmic Horror looked to the modern world itself, and pondered what would happen as man shone a light upon the last refuges of the creatures who once haunted the empty countryside now becoming suburbs, and reached beyond the limits of what he was meant to know. Perhaps HereThereBeDragons, after all?

[[Franchise/UniversalHorror Universal]] and [[Film/HammerHorror Hammer Films]] are responsible for successfully adapting this genre onto the big screen. For a modern take on the genre see GaslampFantasy and SupernaturalFiction.

For an in-depth look go to [[http://web.archive.org/web/20131203014156/http://www.violetbooks.com/ Violet Books]] (unfortunately deceased, but resurrected -- appropriately enough) and the still-active [[http://gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/ Gaslight Reading & Discussion Site]]. See also Lovecraft's essay ''[[http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/essays/shil.aspx Supernatural Horror in Literature]]''.

For a list of tropes used in the Gothic horror genre see IndexOfGothicHorrorTropes.

!Authors who wrote partially or entirely in the Gothic fiction genre include:
!!Eighteenth Century
* Horace Walpole (1717-1797). His novel ''Literature/TheCastleOfOtranto'' (1764) makes him the TropeMaker. Also gave us HauntedCastle.
* Eliza Parsons (1739-1811). Better known for her novel ''Literature/TheCastleOfWolfenbach'' (1793).
* William Beckford (1760-1844). Author of ''Literature/{{Vathek}}'' (1786) and started the subgenre of Orientalist Gothic, frightening because set ''beyond'' "civilised" Europe altogether.
* Ann Radcliffe (1764- 1823). Author of, among others, ''Literature/TheMysteriesOfUdolpho'' (1794) and ''Literature/TheItalian'' (1797). Notably replaced real supernatural events with the ScoobyDooHoax.
* Regina Maria Roche (1764-1845). Her novel ''Literature/TheChildrenOfTheAbbey'' (1796) was a best-seller of its time. But she is best remembered for the moodier ''Literature/{{Clermont}}'' (1798).
* Carl Friedrich Kahlert (1765-1813), ''alias'' Ludwig Flammenberg. He is better known for the novel ''Literature/TheNecromancer'' (1794), also known as ''The Tale of the Black Forest''. The work was written in German and translated into English. The translator Peter Teuthold considerably revised the text and even added a chapter of his own. The Teuthold version is still the best known form of the work.
* Carl Grosse (1768-1847) ''alias'' Marquis de Grosse. Better known for ''Literature/HorridMysteries'' (1796), the English translation of his novel ''Der Genius'' (''The Guiding Spirit'', 1791-1795).
* Eleanor Sleath (1770-1847). Married name of Eleanor Carter. Better known for her novel [[http://www.litgothic.com/Texts/orphan1.html ''The Orphan of the Rhine'']] (1798).
* Charles Brockden Brown (1771-1810): The first important American Gothic writer, best known for ''{{Wieland}}'' (1798).
* Francis Lathom (1774-1832). His better known work in the genre was ''Literature/TheMidnightBell'' (1798). He is also known for ''Literature/TheMysteriousFreebooter'' (1806), an early work of HistoricalFictionLiterature.
* Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775-1818). His novel ''Literature/TheMonk'' (1796) gave us the SinisterMinister, who, among other sins, enters into a DealWithTheDevil.

!!Pre-Victorian Nineteenth Century
* James Hogg (17701835). Best known for ''Literature/ThePrivateMemoirsAndConfessionsOfAJustifiedSinner'' (1824), which gave us the {{Doppelganger}}. The eponymous Sinner supposedly makes a DealWithTheDevil, but it is never clear if this is true or all in his head. Also makes chilling use of PsychologicalHorror and RashomonStyle.
* Creator/JaneAusten (1775-1817) -- wrote ''Literature/NorthangerAbbey'' (1817), the most famous {{Parody}} of the genre. The novel was written between 1798 and 1803, but remained unpublished for several years.
* Creator/ETAHoffmann (1776-1822). The most important German author of Gothic fiction. His novel ''Literature/TheDevilsElixirs'' (1815) is a classic of the genre. His best known work, however, is the short story ''Literature/TheNutcracker'' (1816).
* Charles Robert Maturin (1782-1824). Author of ''Literature/MelmothTheWanderer'' (1820), a notable use of the NestedStory style to tell a complex tale.
* Washington Irving (1783-1859): Author of numerous classic tales of terror. Some, like "Literature/TheLegendOfSleepyHollow" (1820), have rational explanations a la Radcliffe. Others, like "TheDevilAndTomWalker" (1824), are purely supernatural.
* Eaton Stannard Barrett (1786-1820). Wrote ''Literature/TheHeroine'' (1813), a notable parody of the genre. Particularly of the ChangelingFantasy plots which had been used by several gothic novels. In these novels, characters of seemingly modest backgrounds often found themselves secret progeny of noble and/or affluent families. Barrett's "heroine", Cherry Wilkinson, is a farmer's daughter and an avid reader of gothic novels. She convinces herself that she is heiress Cherubina de Willoughby and embarks on a series of [[Literature/DonQuixote quixotic]] misadventures.
* Creator/LordByron (1788-1824). His ByronicHero was a major contribution to Gothic fiction. The type was introduced in the narrative poem ''Literature/ChildeHaroldsPilgrimage'' (1812-1818). His poem ''Literature/TheGiaour'' (1813) is one of the earliest depictions of vampires in fiction. The satiric poem ''Literature/DonJuan'' (1818-1824) is not part of the genre, however.
* John William Polidori (1795-1821). He wrote the first vampire novel, ''Literature/TheVampyre'' (1819).
* Creator/MaryShelley (1797-1851). Her novel ''Literature/{{Frankenstein}}'' (1818) gave us FrankensteinsMonster. She is also considered the first ScienceFiction writer.

* Creator/EdwardBulwerLytton (1803-1873) of ItWasADarkAndStormyNight fame. He had an actual interest in the occult and the paranormal. He incorporated elements of his study in various tales, most notably ''Literature/{{Zanoni}}'' (1842). His most enduring work is probably ''Literature/TheComingRace'' (1871), combining elements of occultism, gothic horror, and science fiction.
* Creator/MarieCorelli (1855-1924) had this in some of her novels, notably ''Wormwood'' and ''Vendetta''.
* NathanielHawthorne (1804-1864):Intertwined Gothic Horror with the history of New England in such stories and novels as "YoungGoodmanBrown" (1835), ''TheHouseOfTheSevenGables'' (1851), etc.
* Creator/EdgarAllanPoe (1809-1849). One of the most important writers of Gothic fiction; wrote the first GreatDetective [[MysteryFiction Mystery]]. He revisited classic gothic themes in the short stories "Literature/TheFallOfTheHouseOfUsher" (1839), and "The Pit and the Pendulum" (1842), among many other classics of the genre. His best known Gothic poem is probably ''Literature/TheRaven'' (1845).
* Creator/CharlesDickens (1812-1870). He gave us VictorianLondon or at least the Hollywood version of it. He tended to use old gothic tropes in new ways. Such as secret heirs to prominent families ("Literature/OliverTwist", 1837-1839), and wicked uncles plotting or performing murder (Literature/TheMysteryOfEdwinDrood, 1870). All in an urban environment and graphically depicting the life of the low classes.
* J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873). Better known as the author of ''Literature/{{Carmilla}}'' (1872). Gave us the OccultDetective and {{Lesbian Vampire}}s.
* Creator/PaulFeval (1816-1887) penned ''Literature/TheVampireCountess'' (1856), ''Literature/{{Knightshade}}'' (1860), and ''Literature/VampireCity'' (1875), all of which are classic examples of OurVampiresAreDifferent.
* George W.M. Reynolds (1814-1879). He wrote the serial novels ''Literature/TheMysteriesOfLondon'' (c. 1844-1848), and ''Literature/TheMysteriesOfTheCourtOfLondon'' (1848-1856). He was a pioneer of the "[[UrbanFantasy urban mysteries]]" style of gothic horror. Tales changing the story setting from the haunted castles of the past to the great metropolis of the Industrial Revolution. He luridly depicted the poverty, crime, and violence of London life. Reynolds also wrote three other gothic novels: ''Faust: a Romance of the Secret Tribunals'' (1847), ''Wagner the Wehr-Wolf'' (1846-7), and ''The Necromancer'' (1851-2).
* James Malcolm Rymer (18141884). Helped [[TropeCodifier pave the way for]] the FriendlyNeighborhoodVampire with the title character of ''Literature/VarneyTheVampire'' (1847), which is also the TropeCodifier for many commonly used vampire tropes such as fangs, two-hole puncture wounds, and SuperStrength, among others.
* Creator/CharlotteBronte (1816-1855). Gave us the MadwomanInTheAttic in ''Literature/JaneEyre'' (1847).
* Creator/EmilyBronte (1818-1848). Author of ''Literature/WutheringHeights'' (1847).
* Creator/WilkieCollins (1824-1889). Author of ''Literature/TheWomanInWhite'' (1859-1860).
* Mary E Braddon (1835-1915). Writer of sensation novels, which took on Gothic tropes like secret marriages and madwomen but generally left out supernatural elements. Author of ''Literature/LadyAudleysSecret'' (1862), one of the first mystery novels, and a possible forerunner to the FilmNoir genre.
* Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888). While best known for ''Literature/LittleWomen'' (1868-1869), [[HeAlsoDid She Also Did]] reasonably successful "sensational" Gothic romances such as ''Literature/AModernMephistopheles'' (1877) under the pen name of A.M. Barnard, and one called ''Literature/ALongFatalLoveChase'' that everyone in her own lifetime found too scandalous to publish. The latter was written in 1866 and first published in 1995.
* George Du Maurier (1834-1896). Author of the novel ''Literature/{{Trilby}}'' (1894), which was the TropeNamer and possibly the TropeMaker for TheSvengali. Also the grandfather of Daphne du Maurier, author of ''Literature/{{Rebecca}}''.
* Creator/{{Ouida}} (1839-1908) had Gothic elements in many of her stories. She even had some tales with [[EverythingsDeaderWithZombies zombies]].
* Creator/AmbroseBierce (1842-1913?). Another precursor to the CosmicHorrorStory. His short story ''Literature/AnOccurrenceAtOwlCreekBridge'' (1890) is a classic case of DyingDream. The lesser known ''Literature/AnInhabitantOfCarcosa'' (1886) is an influential use of the EldritchLocation. The mysterious disappearance of this author has also inspired younger storytellers.
* Creator/HenryJames (1843-1916). Author of ''Literature/TheTurnOfTheScrew'' (1898).
* Creator/BramStoker (1847-1912). Gave us ''Literature/{{Dracula}}'' (1897) and {{Uberwald}}.
* Isidore Ducasse (1847-1870), aka Le Comte de Lautréamont, although it was only a pseudonym. Author of the self-consciously outrageous ''Literature/LesChantsDeMaldoror'' (1868), later a canonical text for [[{{Surrealism}} the Surrealist movement]] in France and Belgium.
* Creator/RobertLouisStevenson (1850-1894). Gave us the JekyllAndHyde trope through ''Literature/TheStrangeCaseOfDrJekyllAndMrHyde'' (1886).
* MaryWilkinsFreeman (1852-1930): Author of regional Gothic tales like "A Symphony in Lavender" (1883), "The Twelfth Guest" (1893), "Luella Miller" (1902), and "The Shadows on the Wall" (1903, adapted as an episode of Series/NightGallery).
* Creator/OscarWilde (1854-1900). Author of ''Literature/ThePictureOfDorianGray'' (1890).
* Creator/ArthurConanDoyle (1859-1930). Creator of Literature/SherlockHolmes. His novel ''Literature/TheHoundOfTheBaskervilles'' (1901-1902) uses classic gothic horror elements, but of course more in the Ann Radcliffe, ScoobyDooHoax style. (On the other hand, he also wrote "Lot No. 249", an early {{Mummy}} tale, in an era when fascination with AncientEgypt was gaining ground.)
* Creator/ArthurMachen (1863-1947). Author of ''Literature/TheGreatGodPan'' (1894).
* Creator/RobertWChambers (1865-1933). Paved the way for the emergence of the CosmicHorrorStory with ''Literature/TheKingInYellow'' (1895).

* Creator/MontagueRhodesJames (1862-1936). Credited with updating the ghost story for the 20th century. His works often used SealedEvilInACan. His short stories were collected in volumes such as ''Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary'' (1904), and its sequel ''More Ghost Stories'' (1911).
* Creator/EdithWharton (1862-1937): Disciple of Creator/HenryJames' . Wrote classic ghost stories, collected in volumes like ''TalesOfMenAndGhosts'' (1910).
* Creator/AlgernonBlackwood (1869-1951). Influential writer of ghost stories. His better known works are ''Literature/TheWillows'' (1907) and "Literature/TheWendigo" (1910). Both are influential works in the CosmicHorrorStory genre.
* Creator/WilliamHopeHodgson (1877-1918). Author of ''Literature/TheHouseOnTheBorderland'' (1908), ''Literature/TheNightLand'' (1912), and ''Literature/CarnackiTheGhostFinder'' (1913).
* Hugh Walpole (1884-1941). Author in several genres. His better known gothic horror tale is ''Portrait of a Man With Red Hair'' (1925) and yes, he ''is'' the descendant of Horace Walpole, the TropeMaker and author of ''Literature/TheCastleOfOtranto'' as earlier mentioned.
* Marjorie Bowen (1885-1952). Prolific author of gothic novels, horror tales, and historical novels. Several of her stories were collected posthumously in the collection "Literature/KecksiesAndOtherTwilightTales" (1976). [[http://web.archive.org/web/20131203014156/http://www.violetbooks.com/bowen.html Her own life story]] was pretty horrific as well.
* Creator/DennisWheatley (1890 - 1977), author of ''Literature/TheDevilRidesOut''.
* Creator/GuyEndore (1900-1970):Author of the classic werewolf novel, ''Literature/TheWerewolfOfParis'' (1933).
* William Sloane (1906-1974): Author of two classic horror novels, ''ToWalkTheNight'' (1937) and ''TheEdgeOfRunningWater'' (1939, filmed as ''TheDevilCommands'' in 1941 with Creator/BorisKarloff).
* Daphne du Maurier (1908-1989). Granddaughter of the above-mentioned George du Maurier; wrote ''Literature/{{Rebecca}}'' (1938), ''Literature/JamaicaInn'' (1936) and the original short story on which ''Film/TheBirds'' was based.

!!Authors influenced by Gothic Fiction:
* Creator/AgathaChristie (1890-1976).
* Creator/HPLovecraft (1890-1937).
* Creator/WilliamFaulkner (1897-1962).
* Creator/ShirleyJackson (1916-1965).
* Creator/RobertBloch (1917-1994).
* Creator/VCAndrews (1923-1986)
* Creator/FlanneryOConnor (1925-1964).
* Creator/ToniMorrison (1931-).
* Creator/MargaretAtwood (1939-).
* Creator/AnneRice (1941-).
* Creator/StephenKing (1947-).
* Creator/BarbaraGowdy (1950-).
* Creator/AmyTan (1952-).
* Creator/NeilGaiman (1960-).
* Creator/JKRowling (1965-).
* Creator/BillyMartin (1967-).
* Creator/JossWhedon.
* One of the more popular and influential eras of ''Series/DoctorWho'' -- featuring Philip Hinchcliffe as producer, Creator/RobertHolmes as script editor and Creator/TomBaker as the lead -- is sufficiently influenced by this movement to be known by the FanNickname "the Gothic Horror era".
* ''VideoGame/HauntingGround'' is essentially a gothic horror game -- a young, FragileFlower heroine ventures/flees through an incredibly elaborate castle inhabited only by Frankentinian servants and sexually abusive vampires whose motivations are vague but clearly malicious. Keeping her fear to manageable levels is actually a game mechanic.