1778 The Old English Baron: Clara Reeve
This story was first published in 1777 under the title The Champion of Virtue. It was republished the next year as The Old English Baron, following revisions by the author’s friend, Mrs Bridgen, who was the daughter of the author Samuel Richardson. A dedication thanking Mrs Bridgen, dated Sept. 1, 1780, was printed in many subsequent editions. The second paragraph of the author’s preface states:
“The Story is the literary offspring of The Castle of Otranto, written upon the same plan…”
The book was very popular in its day and many editions were published, although Clara Reeve was not generally well regarded. Sir Walter Scott famously said of her dialogue that it was “sometimes tense and tedious, not to say mean and tiresome.”
The ninth edition, printed in London by Law and Gilbert in 1811 for a group of six London booksellers is my highly desirable edition, as it is “Embellished with eight elegant engravings”. This edition also contains the original preface by Clara Reeve and her dedication to Mrs Bridgen.