Description of the Villa at Strawberry Hill

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More About This Title Description of the Villa at Strawberry Hill


This depiction of Horace Walpole's famous villa, where he wrote the world's first Gothic horror novel, includes essays explaining the importance of such a portrayal

Strawberry Hill, Horace Walpole's "little castle" southwest of London, is the finest building in the Gothick style—the playful antiquarianism that flourished at the end of the 18th century. Here Walpole established his "Committee of Taste," collected furiously, and wrote the first Gothic horror novel, The Castle of Otranto. Although the villa was popular with tourists from its inception, Walpole published this Description not so much as a guide to the building as a record of its design and of its bewilderingly rich contents. Only 30 copies were printed in Walpole's lifetime, and many of these were kept for friends. This facsimile contains the final version of the text and the 26 engravings commissioned by Walpole as the definitive images of his paper castle: views of the house, the garden, the principal rooms, individual details of the decoration, and plans. In this second edition of the facsimile, a new introduction by Stephen Clarke, the leading scholar of Walpole's writings about his house, illuminates the history and importance of the Description; and its relevance to restoration work today is highlighted in the foreword by Michael Snodin, Chairman of The Strawberry Hill Trust.


Horace Walpole (1717-1797), 4th Earl of Orford, author, politician, architect, and man of taste, was one of the most brilliant figures of the Georgian age. His villa, Strawberry Hill, was the exemplar of Gothick taste, a counterpart to his novel, The Castle of Otranto. Michael Snodin has been responsible for the remarkable restoration of Strawberry Hill, and Stephen Clarke is the leading expert on Horace's writings about his own architecture.