The Haunted Castle
Publisher: T. Maiden
Publication Year: c. 1799
Book Dimensions: 11cm x 18cm
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .L34 H 1799
Follow along with the endeavors of Julian in this chapbook, written circa 1799, to reveal secrets about his past in an unsettling castle.
The front cover of The Haunted Castle presents nothing other than bounded cardboard binding; the cover includes no text nor images. The side of the book features a small, red, leather bound print stating The Haunted Castle at the top of the novel. Other than this small print on the side, there is nothing else on any of the binding. The title of the book appears at the top of the first page in large cursive script, resembling handwriting. The author’s name does not appear on this page with the title; in fact, the author’s name never appears anywhere in the novel. The rest of the title page is blank, leaving empty, unused space. The publication date also does not appear anywhere. The second page includes a strange piece of text, printed upside down at the bottom of the page in near illegible print, which most likely translates to “sixpence novel.” This suggests that the novel was made cheaply, as also suggested by the cover. The back of this page, includes a detailed, full-page graphic of a castle that’s printed in only black and white. The illustration presents a number of knights guiding a woman outside the large entrance of the castle. A caption in thick, bold capital letters stating “Promnelli Castle,” appears below the illustration.
The following page introduces the start of the novel, with the title appearing once again at the top of the page. The text of the story, running 48 pages long, does not contain separate chapters.
The pages are in very fragile condition, nearly falling apart with each turn of a page. Pages 11 and 12 are even missing from this particular copy. The cardboard binding of the book however, which is 11 cm by 18 cm, appears to be in significantly better condition than the pages inside the novel. After the conclusion of the text, several blank, thicker pages were added to this copy of the book to make the binding easier. Printer notes, such as “A2” or “C3,”appear at the bottom of many pages. These were used as a mechanism for the printer, so that they would know how to assemble and fold the pages correctly when putting together the book.
While not tiny, the print of the book is small and slightly faint. The pages also include thin margins along all sides. Most, but not all, words that have an S are printed with the long S, which looks like an f and mimics handwriting, making the novel more difficult to read. With the exception of the illustration at the start of the text, throughout the story there are no other images included until the last page. Beneath the last paragraph of text, a small depiction of another castle sits right under the final paragraph, with “Printed by T. Maiden, Sherbourne Lane” placed beneath it. This last page also includes one of the only signs of any previous owners or readers. Marked in light pencil, just to the left of the image of the castle, is “1702.” There are no other comments found in the book that can help interpret the meaning of this simple note. The bottom left corner of page 22 also features a faded stain of an unidentifiable substance. These two markings are the only signs of any prior use.
The author of The Haunted Castle is unknown, but most likely resided in England, since the book was published and printed in London. Thomas Maiden, Sherbourne-Lane, printed the book for Ann Lemoine, a British chapbook seller and publisher (Bearden-White 103). According to Montague Summers’s Gothic Bibliography, two other books, also titled The Haunted Castle, were published around the same time. Summers lists The Haunted Castle. A Norman Romance by George Walker as well as The Haunted Castle written by August Lafontaine (originally written in German); this latter version is contained in the collection In Tales of Humour and Romance (Summers 348). All three of these texts, however, are distinct and not related in any way.
The University of Virginia Special Collections Library holds the anonymously written The Haunted Castle, which Montague Summers suggests was published in 1799. This copy appears to be the first printing and has not since been digitized online. Another edition, which can be found digitized online in HathiTrust, titled The Haunted Castle; or, The Child of Misfortune, was published in 1801, as stated on its title page. These editions are nearly identical but have just a few differing qualities between the two texts. First, both titles have the segment The Haunted Castle, but the first printing includes only this piece; the longer, The Haunted Castle; or, The Child of Misfortune, was added when the book was republished in 1801. The earlier edition consists of 48 pages, while the copy from 1801 has only 44. This 1801 copy also opens with a line that appears a few sentences into the first paragraph of the earlier version. The large, detailed image that appears before the start of the novel also differs in the two versions; the illustration in the HathiTrust (1801) copy looks more applicable to the text itself as it presents a man with an expression of fear facing an apparition of a woman. The illustration in the University of Virginia’s copy shows a woman, surrounded by knights, in front of a castle with the print “PROMINELLI CASTLE” at the foot. A second, and much smaller, image of a distant castle can also be found in both versions, with just a few distinctions concerning layout. In the earlier text, this drawing appears after the final paragraph, while in the 1801 version it sits on the title page. This suggests that some text was cut and re-edited before the novel was republished in 1801. The HathiTrust copy also does not incorporate the start of a short piece at the end titled, “IVAR AND MATILDA.” The earlier edition includes just a page and a half of this story before concluding the entire book. It is completely unrelated, and was likely the start to another chapbook in a larger collection.
Another copy of the chapbook, not digitized online, can be found in a four-volume compilation, also published in 1801, known as English Nights Entertainments. While there is not much knowledge on this edition, information provided by The Women’s History Project states a matching number of pages as the copy in the University of Virginia’s library, as well as the same publisher and publishing city. Bearden-White’s compilation notes about English Nights Entertainments also mention “IVAR AND MATILDA” appearing on pages 47 and 48, as they do in the University of Virginia copy.
No scholarly study of The Haunted Castle can be found, which may be a result of lack of information the text itself provides. There is no evidence of any advertisements when the book was released or that it has been adapted into any other forms. After the 1801 copy, there are not any other publications or reprintings that are publicly known. The book also does not have any prequels are sequels.
Narrative Point of View
The Haunted Castle is narrated by a third-person, anonymous narrator that does not appear anywhere in the text. This narrator solely follows the story of the protagonist, Julian, and his endeavors after suddenly departing from his previous lodging, where he has spent his entire life. The narration is very descriptive, using lots of adjectives and long sentences to convey the plot information to the reader in the most detailed way; it sometimes details Julian’s emotions but never explores his thoughts and rather mainly focuses just on his actions. The story is told in chronological order of events, with no jumps back or forth in time, but is narrated in the past tense.
To participate in some of these scenes, the disconsolate Julian, expelled from the asylum which had fostered his infancy, without fortune or friends, and only a few ducats in his pocket, with some necessary linen, and no other guardian than his integrity, nor other companion than his horse, set out from Warsenburg upon a long and doubtful journey. As he passed the drawbridge to go out, an old domestic of the family saluted him, and knowing he was taking his departure for good, crossed himself, and wished him the most prosperous adventures. (1)
While the narrator includes descriptive accounts of Julian’s adventures, the narration does not include any dramatic irony or foreshadowing. Therefore, the narration always requires the reader to follow along with Julian and includes no additional insight to what is going to happen next on his journey. Paired with this, the incorporation of long sentences also creates a further eagerness to know the fate of Julian and his trustworthy friend, Conrad. This technique also helps create an enticing and engaging format. An example of these long sentences appears in the sample passage above, which while multiple lines long, actually consists of only two sentences. All of these aspects make the story feel even more gothic, because anything that happens comes as a total surprise and feel very sudden. The pace of the novel also feels much faster because of the long sentences, since so much plot and description are compacted into one single sentence.
The story, told by a third-person narrator, mainly focuses on the life and journeys of the protagonist, Julian. It begins in Suabia, Germany, where Julian leaves the asylum in which he lived his entire life and embarks on an uncertain course. No details are given on his sudden departure. After traveling throughout the day, Julian encounters a small cabin, where he eats dinner and chooses to stay the night. However, while he tries to sleep, he is consumed by his own thoughts, which are interrupted by the sound of people talking in the front of the cabin. Julian realizes that one of the voices belongs to Count Warsenburg, from the asylum, who has come in search of Julian so that he will return. While listening to the conversation, Julian decides to escape through the window and runs through the night through a valley until he reaches a forest in the morning. He takes a brief rest before he continues to run and then finds several cottages, where he briefly eats before departing again.
Continuing to travel through the forest, Julian reaches a clearing, where there is a lawn with a large castle at the end. It spontaneously starts storming when Julian first encounters the castle. A peasant passes by him, so Julian asks if there is anywhere he can go to seek shelter. He ends up running to the drawbridge of the castle and discovers that the door is already half open, so he enters. The foyer is infested with bats, dirt, and cobwebs, and has military objects and portraits of German emperors hanging on the walls along with marble checkered floors and large windows. Julian notices that the castle is uninhabited but fully furnished, although everything is in a state of decay. He explores the rest of the castle and then decides to sleep in one of the bedrooms. He notices a family portrait above the chimney.
At midnight, he wakes up to screams of distress and perceives a man at the foot of the bed; the man wears a loose dress covered in blood, and Julian thinks he looks like the man from the portrait. The phantom leads Julian out of the room to a dark narrow passage where Julian then feels a cold grip around his wrist. The two enter a dungeon where a woman lies on the ground, covered in blood, with three children around her. The woman hugs him, but the narrator then cuts to Julian waking up the next day.
After leaving the castle, he runs into the same peasant, Conrad, as the day before. The two stick together and end up going to a funeral of an unidentified woman. They are informed that the deceased is Jemima, the Lord’s daughter. Julian is distraught, because it is revealed at the end of the novel that Jemima is his former lover.
That night, Julian returns to the castle, intrigued. Again at midnight comes another cry of distress from someone. The phantom appears, and Julian realizes that it is his father, who tells him that his whole family has been murdered and mentions the name Marquis of Vicanze. The next day, Julian learns that the Marquis now resides in Italy, so Julian and Conrad decide to search for him. They encounter a man at an inn, who reveals that the Marquis is there. Julian’s aunt appears, and it is revealed here that Julian’s family haunts the castle, and that he survived only because the Count found Julian floating in a river, rescued him, and raised him as his own. The Marquis, however, murdered the Count, and now Julian wants vengeance.
Julian returns to the castle and arranges a funeral for all of the murder victims. While searching a passage beyond a trap door, Jemima appears. Both Julian and Jemima are thrilled to see each other and discover that they are both alive; Jemima explains that her death was staged, because she was trying to escape the control of her father. The novel ends with a meal shared by Julian and Jemima, in which she reconnects with father and brother to create a happy ending.
Bearden-White, Roy. How The Wind Sits: History of Henry and Ann Lemoine, Chapbook Writers and Publishers of the Eighteenth Century. Laughing Dog Press, 2017.
English Nights Entertainments. London, Ann Lemoine, 1801.
“English Nights Entertainments. The Haunted Castle; or, The Child of Misfortune.” The Women’s Print History Project. https://dhil.lib.sfu.ca/wphp/title/13553
The Haunted Castle. London, T. Maiden, [c. 1799].
The Haunted Castle; or, The Child of Misfortune. A Gothic Tale. London, T. Maiden for A. Lemoine, 1801. HathiTrust, https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uiuo.ark:/13960/t1qg3f098.
Lafontaine, August. The Haunted Castle. In Tales of Humour and Romance. American ed. New York, R. Holcroft, 1829.
Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. London, The Fortune Press, 1941.
Walker, George. The Haunted Castle. A Norman Romance. Minerva-Press, William Lane.
Researcher: Reny Horner