Friday, 24 September 2010
On this day...
British author and politician Horace Walpole, the 4th Earl of Oxford was born in 1717. Cousin of Lord Nelson, and son of British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole, Walpole's early life was somewhat mapped out for him. He was educated at Eton, then Cambridge, and following a Grand Tour with poet Thomas Gray, Walpole assumed his seat in Parliament. Yet beside his political career, which was, by all accounts, never particularly ambitious, Walpole pursued a number of other interests, chiefly architecture and writing.
His lasting architectural creation is Strawberry Hill in Twickenham, a building which he errected in the gothic style and which prompted the Victorian trend for the design. It was here that he had his own printing press, and indeed his most famous literary work reflects the building in which it was published. 'The Castle of Otranto', published in 1764, is widely acclaimed to be the first gothic romance novel and started the genre which was later to produce such works as 'Wuthering Heights' and 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'. Walpole died in 1797 at the age of 79.