From first editions of classic 18th and 19th century texts to 21st century interpretations, Senate House Library’s collections are strong in representations of gothic and supernatural literature. The subject is broad-ranging and intersects with studies of medicine, psychology and cultural memory. One of the earliest gothic texts is Horace Walpole’s 1764/5 the Castle of Otranto which the library holds in both first and second editions, the latter subtitled A Gothic Story, while the first edition of Matthew Lewis’s 1796 work the Monk is also held. One of the most famous gothic stories, Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus is held in its first edition but also in reimagined form as a 19th century play entitled Frankenstein: a Romantic Drama and published by Dick’s Standard Plays. The first edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) is held alongside an earlier literary vampire, John Polidori’s 1819 The Vampyre: a Tale (also later reinterpreted as a Dick’s Standard Play).
Many of these books are held within the Sterling Library, a collection of c.7000 volumes of first editions of English Literature; section I of this collection contains works published prior to 1900. The Dick’s Standard Plays are held within the Malcolm Morley collection, some of which is also available online via the resource Victorian Popular Culture.
Another source of gothic and supernatural literature is the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature an extensive collection which contains works on all aspects of magic, the occult, psychic research and related phenomena and ideas. This collection is strongest in 19th and early 20th century works but is still added to so also contains more contemporary tales. Fiction features within the collection, including tales of the supernatural. Authors featured include spiritualist and Theosophist Violet Tweedale and Algernon Blackwood, but also more contemporary voices such as Susan Hill and Michelle Paver.
The library’s modern collections, much of which is on open access, are also rich in reprinted primary gothic and supernatural literature, many secondary works on the themes, and also first editions from the latter half of the 19thcentury onwards. Writers featured include Arthur Machen, Olivia Howard Dunbar and Lord Dunsany. Adam Scovell’s Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange (2017) is a key text, focussing primarily on film but with literary relevance, while collections published by Tartarus Press and Swan River Press provide both reprints and new literary voices. A recent re-igniting of literary small and independent press publishing is represented by zine-like publications Hellebore, Fiddler’s Green, Weird Walk, Ignota Books’s Spells: 21st-Century Occult Poetry (2018) and Camp Books’s poster Sigils For Queers (2019).
The library’s growing collection of e-books contain many that are relevant to the subject. Perhaps a good starting point is A Research Guide to Gothic Literature in English: Print and Electronic Sources.