The Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction
Gothic Gold: The Sadleir-Black Gothic Collection by Frederick S. Frank
Originally published in Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, vol.26, pp.287-
© 1998 by The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Reproduced here by permission of the author and The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
- The primary documents relating to the formation and content of the Sadleir-Black Collection are: the pamphlet by Robert K. Black containing Michael Sadleir's account, "The Sadleir-Black Gothic Collection, An Address Before the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia" (Charlottesville, VA: The Alderman Library ofthe University of Virginia, 1949); the mimeographed Catalogue of the Sadleir-Black Gothic Collection prepared and distributed by the Rare Book Department of the Alderman Library; Sadleir's November, 1927 pamphlet for the English Association, The Northanger Novels: A Footnote to Jane Austen; David McKinney, The Imprints of Gloomth: The Gothic Novel in England, 1765-1830, An Exhibition Featuring the Sadleir-Black Gothic Novel Collection (Charlottesville, VA: Alderman Library of the University of Virginia, 1988). Other partial bibliographical descriptions of Gothic items in the Sadleir-Black Collection are: Dorothy Blakey, The Minerva Press, 1790- 1820 (London: Oxford Press for the Bibliographical Society,1939); Montague Summers, A Gothic Bibliography (London: Fortune Press, 1941; New York: Russell and Russell, 1964); Ann B. Tracy, The Gothic Novel, 1790-1830: Plot Summaries and Index to Motifs (Lexington, KY; University Press of Kentucky,1981); Frederick S. Frank, The First Gothics: A Critical Guide to the English Gothic Novel (New York: Garland, 1987).
- The Sadleir-Black Collection Catalogue lists the following vault holdings: Beckford, William. Vathek: An Arabian Tale from an Unpublished Manuscript (J. Johnson, 1786) Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. The Sorrows of Werter: A German Story (J. Dodsley, 1779) Grosse, Karl. Horrid Mysteries (Minerva Press, 1796) Hedgeland, Isabella [Kelly]. Eva (Minerva Press, 1799) Kahlert, Karl Friedrich. The Necromancer; or, The Tale of the Black Forest (Minerva Press, 1794) Lathom, Francis. The Midnight Bell: A German Story (H. D. Symonds, 1798) Two editions of Lewis, Matthew Gregory. The Monk: A Romance (J. Bell, 1796) Maturin, Charles Robert. Bertram; or, The Castle of St. Aldobrand (John Murray, 1816) Ormsby, Mrs. Anne. Memoirs of a Family in Swisserland (Longman & Rees, 1802) Parsons, Eliza [Phelp]. Castle of Wolfenbach; A German Story (Minerva Press, 1793) Parsons, Eliza. The Mysterious Warning, A German Tale (Minerva Press, 1796) Radcliffe, Ann [Ward]. The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne: A Highland Story (T. Hookham, 1799) Radcliffe, Ann [Ward]. The Poems of Mrs. Ann Radcliffe (J. Smith, 1816) Reeve, Clara. The Champion of Virtue. A Gothic Story (W. Keymer, 1777) Roche, Mrs. Regina Maria [Dalton]. The Children of the Abbey. A Tale (Minerva Press, 1796) Roche, Mrs. Regina Maria [Dalton]. Clermont. A Tale (Minerva Press, 1798) Shelley, Percy Bysshe. St. Irvyne; or, The Rosicrucian: A Romance (J. J. Stockdale, 1811) Sleath, Mrs. Eleanor. The Orphan of the Rhine Minerva Press, 1798) Walpole, Horace. The Castle of Otranto, A Gothic Story (Thomas Lownds, 1765).
- In chapter 6 of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Isabella Thorpe provides the heroine, Catherine Morland, with a reading list of seven terrifying titles. These titles comprise the "Northanger Novels" or "Northanger Septet," the objectives of Sadleir's search and the core of the Sadleir-Black Collection. The seven titles with Sadleir-Black vault copy call numbers are: Eliza Parsons's Castle of Wolfenbach (PZ2.P377C) and The Mysterious Warning (PZ2.377mys), Mrs. Regina Maria Roche's Clermont (PZ2.R63C 1), Karl Friedrich Kahlert's The Necromancer of the Black Forest (PZ2.K43N), Francis Lathom's The Midnight Bell (PZ2.L38Mi), Mrs. Eleanor Sleath's The Orphan of the Rhine (PZ2.S560), and Karl Grosse's Horrid Mysteries (PZ2.G77H).
- The sole big-bibliographical study of Sadleir's scholarly career is: Roy Stokes, Michael Sadleir (Metuchen, NJ, and London: Scarecrow Press, 1980). Sadleir specialized in collecting and writing about Victorian fiction and was an eminent bibliographer in the field. His Excursions in Victorian Bibliography (London: Caundy and Fox, 1922) and Anthony Trollope, A Commentary (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1927) remain standard references.
- Sadleir, "The Sadleir-Black Gothic Collection," 5.
- Ibid., 4.
- The quest for the lost Northanger novels was initiated by Montague Summers. See: "'Northanger Abbey': 'Horrid Romances,"' Nates & Queries 2 (July I, 1916): 9; "'Northanger Abbey': 'Horrid Romances,"' Notes & Queries 2 (July 29, 1916): 97-98; "'Northanger Abbey': 'Horrid Romances,"' Times Literary Supplement, 27 December 1917, p. 649. Summers refuted Saintsbury's denial of their existence. Another searcher, Alan D. McKillop, verified the authenticity and discussed the authorship of The Necramancer; or, The Tale of the Black Forest in "Jane Austen's Gothic Titles," Notes & Queries 9 (1921): 361- 62. Sadleir's 1927 monograph (cited above) and a second version of this study, "'All Horrid?': Jane Austen and the Gothic Romance," in Things Past (London: Constable,1944),167200, summarize and analyze the Northanger Seven. For modern critical discussions of these Gothics, see: Bette B. Roberts, "The Horrid Novels, The Mysteries of Udolpho and Northanger Abbey," in Gothic Fictions: Prohibition/Transgression, ed. Kenneth W. Graham (New York: AMS Press, 1989), 89-111; Nelly Stephane, "Une Parodie de Roman Noir: Northanger Abbey," Europe: Revue Litte'raire Mensuelle 659 (1984): 19-28; Beth Lau, "Madeline at Northanger Abbey: Keats's Anti-Romances and Gothic Satire," Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 84 (1985): 3-50; Tara GhoshalWallace, "Northanger Abbey and the Limits of Parody," Studies in the Novel 20 (1988): 262-73; Mark Loveridge,"Northanger abbey: Or, Nature and Probability," Nineteenth- Century Fiction 56 (1991): 1-29.
- George Saintsbury, Tales of Mystery: Mrs. Radcliffe, Lewis, Maturin (New York: Macmillan, 1891), 19.
- 9. Sadleir, "The Sadleir-Black Gothic Collection," 6.
- 10. Summers's history of the Gothic novel, The Gothic Quest: A History of the Gothic Novel (1938; reprint, New York: Russell and Russell, 1964), 398. Summers acknowledges the scholarship of Sadleir as helpful to his own Gothic questings. "Mr. Sadleir is rightly emphatic that the Gothic romance 'sprang from a genuine spiritual impulse.' I have chosen as the title of my book 'The Gothic Quest' to signify the spiritual as well as the literary and artistic seeking for beauty."
- Sadleir, The Northanger Novels: A Footnote to Jane Austen, 3-4.
- Devendra P. Varma, The Gothic Flame: Being a History of the Gothic Novel in England; Its Origins, Effflorescence, Disintegration, and Residuary Influences (London: A. Barker, 1957; New York: Russell and Russell, 1966; Metuchen, N.J.; and London: Scarecrow Press, 1990). The seven Northanger novels were made available to modern readers in editions by the Folio Press in 1968 with Varma's introductions. Additionally, thirty of the Sadleir-Black Collection's rarest Gothics were reprinted in three series by the Arno Press (1972, 1974, 1977) under Varma's general editorship.
- Sadleir, "The Sadleir-Black Gothic Collection," 6.
- Ibid., 7.
- Ibid., 10.
- Except for William Whyte Watt's now-ancient fifty-four page monograph, Shilling Shockers of the Gothic School: A Study of Chapbook Gothic Romances (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1932; New York: Russell and Russell, 1967), scholarly interest in these miniature Gothics has been minimal. Watt regarded the shilling shocker as the transitional link between the Gothic novel of the eighteenth century and the nineteenth-century short tale of terror as practiced by Poe, Maupassant, and Le Fanu. Recent reprintings of a few shilling shockers have been done by Peter Haining whose two anthologies, Gothic Tales of Terror: Classic Horror Stories from Great Britain, Europe, and the United States, 1765-1840 (New York: Taplinger, 1972) and The Shilling Shocker: Stories of Terror from the Gothic Bluebooks (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979) offer some examples. Chris Baldick's edition entitled Oxford Book of Gothic Tales (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992) contains Isaac Crookenden's The Vindictive Monk; or, The Fatal Ring.
- "Bibliographic Chronologique du Roman 'Gothique' 1764-1824," a selective primary bibliography of Gothic fiction in Maurice Levy's Le Roman 'Gothique' Anglais, 1764-1824 (Toulouse: Association des Publications de la Faculte des Lettres et Sciences, 1968), 684-708, identifies numerous titles in Sadleir-Black and the New York Society Library's Hammond Collection. Maurice Levy, "English Gothic and the French Imagination: A Calendar of Translations, 1767- 1828," in The Gothic Imagination: Essays in Dark Romanticism, ed. G. R. Thompson (Pullman, WA: Washington State University Press, 1974), 150-176, concentrates on the work of emigre translators in Sadleir-Black, the New York Society Library, the British Museum, and the Bibliotheque Nationale. Levy refers to the Gothics as "obsolete wonders," and mentions Sadleir-Black as "a unique collection . . . an invaluable help to such scholars as are reckless enough to investigate these futile but difficult matters."
- Archibald Shepperson, "Gothic Nonsense," in The Novel in Motley: A History of the Burlesque Novel in English (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1936),154-81. The incontinence of the Gothic novel gave rise to parodies and burlesques, with "the same burlesque usually ridiculing both excessive sensibility and excessive Gothicism."
- This puzzling pseudonym is attached to one of the most acerbic parodies of the Gothic in the Sadleir-Black Collection. Love and Horror: An Imitation for the Present and a Model for All Future Romances (PZ2.I65L; London: J.J. Stockdale, 1815) delivers a coup de grace to all "Gothic nonsense" as well as to the stilted young hero and menaced maiden of the typical Gothic romance. Discontented with dull normality, Ircastrensis's hero, the plain and pedestrian Thomas Baily, sets out to reshape his life as a Gothic ordeal. He falls in love with a woman who has been deceased for two hundred years and determines to reincarnate the posthumous beloved of his dreams as the ravishing Ethelinda Tit by persuading Ethelinda's last surviving relative, Annabella Tit, to impersonate her in a series of contrived Gothic emergencies which allow Baily to excel in the role of Gothic hero. The irate brilliance of the satire may be a clue to the pseudonym, a compound of the Latin "ire" or anger and "castrametari," or "castrametation," the term for the construction of a defensive military encampment of the legion on campaign. The pseudonym then explains itself as "angry defensive position against" all forms of Gothic flummery.
- Black, "The Sadleir-Black Gothic Collection," 11.
- Jakob Brauchli, Der Englische Schauerroman um 1800: Unter Berucksichtigung der Unbekannten Bucher. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Volksliteratur (Weida, Germany: Thomas und Hubert,1928). Brauchli's bibliographical pamphlet, the first systematic bibliography of Gothicism, is itself a rare book. Entries are not annotated, print is minuscule, and publication data is often omitted or erroneous. Nevertheless, Brauchli's listings of the first Gothics are indispensable to Gothic bibliography and can survive Montague Summers's complaint that they "are not merely incomplete but muddled in their arrangement."
- Agnes Maria Bennett, Vicissitudes Abroad; or, The Ghost of My Father (London: Minerva Press, 1806) is exemplary of the fashion in giant Gothics and is perhaps the lengthiest novel in Sadleir-Black. The page counts of the six volumes are: volume 1, 384 pages; volume 2, 340 pages; volume 3, 323 pages; volume 4, 355 pages; volume 5, 316 pages; volume 6, 308 pages, yielding a grand total of 2,026 pages.
- Gothic illustration is yet another nearly uncharted area of Gothic study. The Gothic bibliographers, Summers and Levy, have included an assortment of plates from the translations, longer Gothic fiction, and chapbooks in their writings, but no full-length study exists. See: Montague Summers, "The Illustrations of the Gothick Novels," Connoisseur 98 (1936): 266-71; Maurice Levy, Images du Roman Noir (Paris: Eric Losfeld, 1973); Maurice Levy, "Images du Roman Noir," Die Buchillustration im 18. Jahrhundert: Colloquium der Arbeitsstelle 18. Jahrhundert Gesamthochschule Wuppertal Universitdt Mu'nster / Du'sseldorf vom 3. bis 5. Oktober 1978 (Heidelberg: Heidelberg University Press, 1980), 156 65; Maurice Levy, "Les llustrations du Roman 'Noir'en France a la Fin du XVIIIe Siecle," in L'lllustration du Livre et la Litte'rature an XVIII~ Siecle en France et en Pologne, ed. Zdislaw Libera (Warsaw: University of Varsovie, 1982), 123-34.
- Tracy, The Gothic Novel, 1790-1830: Plot Summaries, 15. The Gothics in the Sadleir-Black Collection furnish a partial database for the titles described in the Tracy bibliography. In compiling the bibliography, Tracy notes that "the University of Virginia's Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic novels is much the most extensive on this side of the Atlantic, and the staff is especially courteous and reasonable."
- Devendra P. Varma, "The Starhemberg Collection," Illustrated London News, Christmas Number, 1983: 67-68. Varma rates this collection as on a par with the Sadleir-Black Collection and superior to Sadleir-Black in certain areas.