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Cornish Gothic, 1830-1913

Cover of Joan Passey's monograph Cornish Gothic, 1830-1913, depicting a shipwreck.

Press release issued: 11 July 2023

by Joan Passey

This book asks why so many authors drew on Cornwall for inspiration across the long nineteenth century, and considers the seismic cultural changes in Cornwall that spurred this interest – from the collapse of the mining industry to the developing national rail network; from the birth of tourism to the neomedieval rise in interest in King Arthur. Understanding frequently overlooked Cornwall in this period is vital to understanding Gothic literature, the Victorian imagination, intellectual and creative networks, and attitudes towards regionality.

The first part of the book considers landscape and legend, defining a mining Gothic tradition, exposing the shipwreck as Gothic mastertrope, and demonstrating how antiquarians drew from Cornish legends and lore. The second part explores encounters with modernity, investigating the impact of railway expansion on access to Cornwall, the development of a Cornish King Arthur as a key figure of Victorian masculinity, and the specific features of the Cornish ghost story.
For more information, see the University of Wales Press website.
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