Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Lewis, Matthew Gregory

(1775-1818) UK novelist, playwright and translator, best-known as the author of the archetypally lurid Gothic novel The Monk: A Romance (1796; exp but bowdlerized 1798; vt Ambrosio, or The Monk 1798 US; vt Rosario, or The Female Monk US). The bibliography of this work is complicated, many abridged and chapbook editions reprinting sections of the text under various combinations of the titles The Castle of Lindenburg, The Legend of the Bleeding Nun and The History of Raymond and Agnes; this element of the text was also dramatized as Raymond and Agnes (circa 1820 chap). Most 20th-century editions restore the passages censored from the 1798 version.

MGL was a prolific writer of stage melodramas, some supernatural; many were never formally published, although scripts have survived. The Castle Spectre (1798) is Gothic Horror, but One o'Clock!, or The Knight and the Wood Daemon (1811 chap; vt The Wood Daemon, or The Clock Has Struck! US) is a fantasy. Some of the stories in Romantic Tales (coll 1808 4 vols; cut 1838 1 vol) are also of fantasy interest, although most are adaptations of works by other hands. "Mistrust, or Blanche and Osbright, A Feudal Romance" is a further Gothic piece, but The Four Facardins (1899) begins with a translation (from the French) of an elaborate but incomplete parodic Oriental Fantasy by Count Anthony Hamilton, to which MGL added a second part longer than the first; the volume includes also an alternative (but very short) second part by one Monsieur de Levis. The only fantasy among the three novellas reprinted in the 1838 edition of Romantic Tales, "Amorassan, or The Spirit of the Frozen Ocean", is a tediously moralistic Oriental tale.

Yet more bibliographical confusion surrounds MGL's ballad anthology Tales of Wonder (anth 1801 2 vols). The contents of the first volume, consisting of works by MGL and several others, were later reprinted in the Morley's Universal Library volume Tales of Terror and Wonder (anth 1887) along with a collection of parodies which had appeared as Tales of Terror (coll 1801), falsely advertised as MGL's work. There are numerous chapbook editions of selections or single items from the MGL anthology, which was an influential work; it contains versions of Goethe's "The Erl-King", "Leonora" and "The Wild Huntsmen" by Gottfried August Bürger (1747-1794), and the famous ballad Tam Lin, plus significant early work by Walter Scott. [BS]

other works: The Isle of Devils: A Historical Tale [in verse] (1827 chap).

Matthew Gregory Lewis


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.