Radcliffe and her contemporaries....[n]o, what I propose to students of the Gothic is that any reinterpretation of this genre must proceed beyond or outside of the constricting framework of late-eighteenth-century esthetic theory, for if we are to establish the groundwork for a new appraisal of the Gothic imagination we will have to provide for the theoretical differentiation of mythopoetic tendencies that cannot be accounted for in terms of either "terror" or "horror".
Ann Radcliffe's novels always had a hint of the supernatural thrown in with the other nonsense, and hers, I believe, were the most commercial novels of the regency period. (If pressed, I would choose Anne Rice as the author of our own times that reminds me most of Ann Radcliffe; but, that is not a perfect match.)
She elucidated her stance in an 1826 essay entitled "On the Supernatural in Poetry," in which draws upon Edmund Burke in order to distinguish between terror and horror in literature.
Little wasor is known about Radcliffe's life, so not surprisingly apocryphalstories sprang up about her: it was reported that she had gone mad as aresult of her dreadful imagination and been confined to an asylum, thatshe had been captured as a spy in Paris, or that she ate rare porkchops before retiring to stimulate nightmares for her novels; severaltimes she was falsely rumored to be dead. She seems to have beenhappily married and to have been fortunate in having a husband whoencouraged her to write. There is no explanation for why, at the age ofthirty-two, the most popular writer of her times stopped publishing;there is of course much speculation by her biographers and by literarycritics. In 1833, years after her death, her husband published some ofher poems and a historical romance, ; it isnot clear that she intended to publish these works. is of interest because it is her only novel that doesnot explain away the supernatural happenings and because it contains,apparently as a preface, her thoughts on the sublime and Gothicfiction, .