Clara Reeve  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Clara Reeve (1729 - 1807), novelist, born in Ipswich, England, was the author of several novels, of which only one is remembered--The Champion of Virtue, later known as The Old English Baron (1777), written in imitation of, or rivalry with, the Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, with which it has often been printed. Her novel noticeably influenced Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. She also wrote the epistolary novel The School for Widows (1791). Her innovative history of prose fiction, The Progress of Romance (1785), can be regarded generally as a precursor to modern histories of the novel and specifically as upholding the tradition of female literary history heralded by Elizabeth Rowe (1674 – 1737) and Susannah Dobson, d. 1795. One of the stories in this work, "The History of Charoba, Queen of Egypt", was the inspiration for Walter Savage Landor's first major work Gebir.

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