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The magic of dark, foreboding writing comes to Alderney

The magic of dark, foreboding writing comes to Alderney

Thursday 14 September 2023

The magic of dark, foreboding writing comes to Alderney

MEDIA RELEASE: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not Bailiwick Express, and the text is reproduced exactly as supplied to us

The Alderney Literary Trust is holding its second mini-festival of Gothic Literature on October 14 – but what IS Gothic Literature?

Organiser Isabel Picornell says the Channel Islands are in for a treat but fans should come prepared for a spine-chilling experience.

“Gothic fiction has intrigued and unsettled readers for more than two centuries,” she says. “It explores themes of horror, romance, and the macabre.”

Wild and remote landscapes and vulnerable heroines abound in the genre.

“Often set in bleak landscapes, old castles, ruins or haunted houses where secrets, mysteries, and dangers lurk, true Gothic works serve as a mirror to human anxieties and desires,” says Dr. Picornell. “In a more modern-day setting it creates a mood of fear, dread, and suspense. Even fantasies or supernatural and uncanny happenings. For me, it’s the suspense and the feeling that anything could happen.”

While some of the most famous examples of Gothic literature are Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Edgar Allan Poe's stories and poems or Bram Stoker's Dracula, more modern examples would include Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca with its combination of emotional intensity, isolation, mysterious setting, and foreboding atmosphere.

More recent writers such as Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Sarah Waters embody Gothic elements, particularly in the exploration of humanity’s darker side.

“There’s a common thread across both traditional and modern Gothic literature – the exploration of the unknown, whether it's the supernatural or the dark and mysterious aspects of human nature,” adds Dr Picornell.

Literally Gothic, on Saturday, October 14th at the Alderney Methodist Church (9.30am – 5.30pm), features five leading authors who will speak on different aspects of the genre, with themes ranging from the influence of architecture on literature to the uncanny and the supernatural.

Dale Townshend, Professor of Gothic Literature at the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University, opens the festival at 9.30 am with “Revenants and Remains: Gothic Architecture and Gothic Literature in the Long 18th Century”.

Zoe Somerville is in conversation with Rachel Abbott on "The Uncanny". She will discuss how terror is caused by the familiar being made unfamiliar in her second book, The Marsh House, set in the austere and isolated seascape of the Norfolk coast.

Anna Mazzola returns with her fifth Gothic tale, The House of Whispers, set in Mussolini's Italy. Anna will review "Gothic Fiction and the Supernatural: the haunting of place and minds from the dawn of Gothic fiction to today."

A J West will talk about the background to his award-winning debut, The Spirit Engineer, based on the real story of the spiritualist sceptic William Jackson Crawford and his investigation of the Edwardian medium, Kathleen Goligher, and how a mysterious true story shaped a gothic novel.

Finally, Tish Delaney explores the world of Irish Gothic writing with her second book, The Saint of Lost Things, a tale of dysfunctional families and the clash between conservative Catholic tradition and the modern world, in "Bog Gothic: writing contemporary Irish Gothic Fiction".

Literally Gothic is sponsored by the Channel Islands investment group, Ravenscroft.

Tickets for the talks are available to the public online at and at the Alderney Visitor Centre, tel 01481 822333. Talks are £10 per person, discounted to £45 for all five talks, and are free to 16-year-olds and under.

Full details can be found at


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