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Gothic novel Genre of English fiction popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Gothic novels often rely on eerie medieval externals, such as old castles, monasteries and hidden trapdoors, for their symbolism. Horace Walpole wrote an important prototype, The Castle of Otranto (1764). Later examples include The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) by Ann Radcliffe and Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley.