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  • Sarah Gray

Racontesse Journal



“I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt; I fear; I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul.”

― Bram Stoker, Dracula.


As I approached Whitby’s cliffs I was scared the abbey wouldn’t fulfil all of my hopes. When it appeared, looming up against the skyline, it lived up to my gothic expectations. I could clearly imagine how Bram Stoker’s Dracula could be born out of this magnificent structure. I had wanted to visit Whitby and its favourite abbey for so many years that it had become a fantasy – almost a fiction itself. Whitby is a charming harbour town but I was disappointed with its lack of homage to Dracula and its creator. A few years ago I visited a stunning exhibition, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination, held at the British Library detailing the history of Gothic fiction. To bring this to Whitby would secure its place as the heart of Gothic Fiction.

Castle Howard was destroyed by fire in a 1940 and was restored in stages from the 1960s onward. It was when the 1980’s production of Brideshead Revisited was shot here that much was restored by the production company to make sets. I was surprised by how it was money from the TV industry that helped to restore a heritage site of national importance back to its original glory. On and off screen the house is as equally stunning.

Often I am unmoved by the places writers work, to me it is the words that are important. However, the dining room in which the Bronte sisters sat, debating and creating together, enabled me to visualise how two of English literature's greatest works, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, came to life. I felt that if I had been brought up in the Parsonage I too would’ve been drawn into the creative dynamics of the Bronte family. Haworth is surrounded by moors and the Parsonage built in front of a graveyard with such an atmosphere how could you fail to create such classics of gothic fiction. Even the weather was perfect – rain and wind abound. Being surrounded by Northern Gothic has left me inspired to breathe life, or death, into my own gothic creations.

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