The Strawberry Hill House doesn’t fit into regular architecture styles. It is not a castle or an ancestral building, or a classic English Villa. This is because it wasn’t supposed to fit into the conventional styles. In 1747, Horace Walpole found this area and redesigned it into a gothic revival home or as Walpole would call it, gloomth. This man in Twickenham ended up influencing all worldwide known gothic literature, but how did that happen?


The initial information that is needed to know is about the man Horace Walpole was. He lived from 1717 to 1797 and was a writer, connoisseur, and art critic. Walpole was a very prosperous man since his father, Sir Robert Walpole, was the British Prime Minister at the time. Walpole was very close with his mother his entire life, so when she passed away in 1737, Walpole was heartbroken. These emotions were his inspiration for most of his writing, which became quite controversial. Since Walpole was a public figure for his father’s career, many people felt unsettled with how dark his work was. Additionally, he never got married, and had there was speculation of his sexual orientation. As the prime minister’s son, this was extremely contentious. One night, Walpole had a nightmare. He used this to write the famous novel, The Castle of Otranto. 


The Castle of Otranto tells the story of Manfred, lord of the castle, and his family. The book is about the consequences of a wedding that is disrupted by a giant helmet falling from the sky and killing the groom, and events that happened in the past to cause this. The book has themes of dark family secrets as well as supernatural elements. It is a classic romance with eerie elements and ghostly appearances. Walpole initially claimed that The Castle of Otranto was a translation of an Italian manuscript from 1529 yet Walpole only admitted to writing it much later.


It was published in 1764, and in doing so Walpole shaped a new genre. He wrote the first gothic novel. The themes of The Castle of Otranto became key criteria of gothic fiction. Regardless of being written 250 years ago, The Castle of Otranto inspired plenty of other pieces of gothic literature such as Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein’ and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’. Right now, the Strawberry Hill House is being used for tours, readings, and much more. If you would like to go to one of these chilling events, visit the link below.