I have been aware for a while that the most recent issue of Studies in Gothic Fiction contained two articles on Eleanor Sleath.
I deliberately avoided looking at them whilst I was reading Orphan of the Rhine to avoid the chance of any spoilers creeping in to ruin the book for me.
So having finished Orphan I have now looked at these articles. Firstly some good news:
I have posted a couple of times recently about mysteries regarding the name or gender of authors. Mrs Sleath has for a while been a mystery character. D P Varma in his introduction to the 1968 edition of Orphan attempted with little success to track her down. Hhowever the resources now available to genealogists, plus the finding of some archived private papers have led Rebecca Czlapinski and Eric Wheeler to the firm identification of the authoress and provide some further background concerning her life and career. For once she appears to be what she claims.
The second article, by Tennille Novak considers the influences of Orphan of the Rhine on Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Whilst some of the assertions Ms Novak makes would have benefitted considerably by her having seen the first article before she set pen to paper, it remains an interesting thesis. I do have some issues with it which I hope to return to later.
This is the third edition of Studies in Gothic Fiction. It is freely available as a pdf download from the website, and is generally an entertaining and thought provoking publication.