1844 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Clara Reeve

Robert Chambers, in Cyclopaedia of English Literature (1844; 1850) 2:180-81.



The last of our novel writers of this period was Miss CLARA REEVE, the daughter of a clergyman at Ipswich, where she died in 1803, aged seventy-eight. An early admiration of Horace Walpole's romance, The Castle of Otranto, induced Miss Reeve to imitate it in a Gothic story, entitled The Old English Baron, which was published in 1777. In some respects the lady has the advantage of Walpole; her supernatural machinery is better managed, so as to produce mysteriousness and effect; but her style has not the point or elegance of that of her prototype. Miss Reeve wrote several other novels, "all marked," says Sir Walter Scott, "by excellent good sense, pure morality, and a competent command of those qualities which constitute a good romance." They have failed, however, to keep possession of public favour, and the fame of the author rests on her Old English Baron, which is now generally printed along with the story of Walpole.