A day full of horrors

It’s enough to give you an attack of the vapours! With Halloween on the horizon, we have a Spooky Saturday coming up at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution in Queen Square.

The Gothic novel with its themes of fear and the supernatural is having something of a renaissance; with a new film on the subject of Emily Bronte on the cards, and writers such as Neil Gaiman and Stephen King leaning heavily on familiar Gothic tropes, Bath’s Gothic Fiction Day will be asking what is it about this genre – once looked down upon as lacking seriousness – that we are suddenly seizing upon as a society? 

Could it be that in a time of massive societal uncertainty we look out for narratives that reflect our wider sense of instability?

BRLSI has lined up speakers who will be focusing on just what keeps Gothic Literature alive and at the forefront of culture in 2022.

On Saturday, 22nd October 2022 the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution is running a full day of talks about Gothic novels which were either written in Bath or written by authors who at some time in their lives resided in Bath. Why did the city attract so many fabulous women? 

Fans of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey will be aware of the warning that Gothic Novels are ‘not proper reading’, especially for women. Times have changed, and this conference will focus on three women who embraced this genre and who were popular during their lifetime and in the case of Mary Shelley, who gained an international reputation, her ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’ creation becoming an iconic figure recognised around the world. 

The talks will examine three women authors: Ann Radcliffe, Mary Shelley and Angela Carter and their works, together with the novel ‘Vathek’ by William Beckford. 

The line-up of speakers is first class, including the outstanding writer and broadcaster Sir Christopher Frayling, the award-winning author Robert Morrison, the highly regarded Bath historian and storyteller Dr. Amy Frost, the past president of the International Gothic Association and widely published author on the subject of Gothic fiction, Andrew Smith, plus Sheila Hannon, whose ‘Frankenstein Walks in Bath’ alerted residents to the role of Bath in Mary Shelley’s life and Chris Harris who has developed the fascinating museum ‘Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein’ in the centre of the city.

Ahead of the conference there is even a chance to win a pair of tickets to the ‘Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein’ Museum. Join Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution on the 22nd of October for an exploration of the Gothic novel, and for tickets follow http://www.brlsi.org


10am – Welcome by Betty Suchar 

10.05am – The Appeal of the Gothic – Robert Morrison, British Academy Global Professor, Bath Spa University 

11am – Vathek & William Beckford – Dr Amy Frost, Senior Curator at Bath Preservation Trust 

12pm – Ann Radcliffe, Pioneer of Gothic Fiction – Andrew Smith, Professor of Nineteenth-Century English Literature, University of Sheffield 

1pm – lunch (self-organised) 

2pm – Mary Shelley in Bath & the Shelleys in Somerset – Sheila Hannon, Creative Producer, co-founder of Show of Strength Theatre Company 

2.30pm – The Making of the Mary Shelley House of Frankenstein Museum – Chris Harris, Co-founder / Director of the Mary Shelley House of Frankenstein Museum 

3pm – Inside the Bloody Chamber: Angela Carter in Bath – Sir Christopher Frayling, broadcaster & writer of popular culture 

4pm – Summary remarks and vote of thanks – John Strachan, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research & Enterprise, Bath Spa University 


Bath’s Gothic Fiction – A Day-Long Programme of Talks 

Saturday 22nd October, 10am-4pm| [LIVE at 16 Queen Square Bath OR Online] 

Tickets:[£10 for Members / £25 for Non-Members] at brlsi.org/whats-onor via https://www.brlsi.org/whatson/baths-gothic-fiction-a-day-long-programme-of-talks/


A day of talks at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution on the subject of Bath’s Gothic Fiction celebrates key Bath residents who played a key role in the development of Gothic Fiction.  What was it in the waters that attracted the likes of Mary Shelley, Ann Radcliffe, Jane Austen and Angela Carter? We can’t wait to find out.

Here is your chance to let us know what you think is the greatest gothic novel of all time. Enter our competition by Thursday 20th October and get your entries read by our co-convenors for Literature Betty Suchar and Ian Gadd, who will be selecting our winner. The prize winner will receive two tickets to Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein Museum in Bath.

Good luck and we look forward to reading your entries!

Competition link