Ann Radcliffe: The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne

(655 words)

Set on a remote Scottish Highlands coast in the Middle Ages, Radcliffe’s first novel, The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1789), describes the long-running feud between two neighbouring clans. Twelve years before the start of the novel, the proud and oppressive Baron Malcolm of Dunbayne, “by a curious finesse” (3), entrapped and murdered the Earl of Athlin. On coming of age, the Earl of Athlin’s son, Osbert, vows to avenge his death.

Whilst out rambling, Osbert, enrapt in “awful solitudes” (5), loses himself in the “uncultivated” (5) environment. Eventually he chances upon an “Elysian valley” (6) where he meets a local peasant called Alleyn. Alleyn discovers Osbert …

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Webber, Caroline. "The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 August 2007
[, accessed 30 November 2015.]

Related Groups

  1. Gothic, Grotesque& Supernatural Fiction