The Old English Baron

"The Old English Baron" is an early gothic novel by the English authoress Clara Reeve [http://digital.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=5182] . It was first published under this title in 1778 although it had anonymously appeared in 1777 under its original name of The Champion of Virtue.

Reeve noted in the 1778 preface that "This Story is the literary offspring of the Castle of Otranto, written upon the same plan, with a design to unite the most attractive and interesting circumstances of the ancient Romance and modern Novel, at the same time it assumes a character and manner of its own, that differs from both; it is distinguished by the appellation of a Gothic Story, being a picture of Gothic times and manners."

The story follows the adventures of Sir Philip Harclay, who returns to medieval England to find that the castle seat and estate of his friend Lord Lovel have been usurped. A series of revelations, horrors and betrayals climax in a scene of single combat in which good battles evil for the return of the prize.

The Oxford World Classics edition notes that it was a major influence in the development of Gothic fiction [http://www.oup.com/uk/catalogue/?ci=9780192803276] . It was dramatized in 1799 as Edmond, Orphan of the Castle [http://www.litgothic.com/Authors/reeve.html] .


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