Gothic Chapbooks

6. Sarah Wilkinson’s “The White Cottage” is an identity discovery narrative: the main character’s inner merit is recognized early in the story by the reader, and is later valorized by the revelation of the character’s high social standing. It is also an example of what is generally referred to as the “female gothic.” The phrase is sometimes used loosely to refer to female authors and/or gothic narratives with a female protagonist; however, a more rigorous approach examines the association of the gothic genre with both women writers and readers. In the Romantic period (and in later periods), it was often assumed that the gothic was a feminine genre, and that the majority of its readers were women. Such beliefs were troublesome to certain critics who saw women as being particularly susceptible to reading their lives as gothic romance novels, thereby unfitting them for common domestic duties, and who saw gothic narratives as preying upon the morally and emotionally weaker feminine nature.

“The White Cottage of the Valley; or the Mysterious Husband: An Original, Interesting Romance,” by Sarah Wilkinson, is 22 pages long. Published and printed by R. Harrild, Great Eastcheap, London. Price sixpence. It includes one colour illustration.