|The Right Honourable |
The Earl of Orford
Horace Walpole by Joshua Reynolds 1756
National Portrait Gallery, collection London.
Member of Parliament
|In office |
Serving with Thomas Copleston (1741-1748)
Edward Bacon (1748-1754)
|Preceded by||Thomas Copleston |
Isaac le Heup
|Succeeded by||Sewallis Shirley |
Member of Parliament
for Castle Rising
|In office |
Serving with Thomas Howard
|Preceded by||The Lord Luxborough |
|Succeeded by||Thomas Howard |
Member of Parliament
for King's Lynn
|In office |
Serving with Sir John Turner, 3rd Baronet
|Preceded by||Sir John Turner, 3rd Baronet |
|Succeeded by||Sir John Turner, 3rd Baronet |
|Born||Horatio Walpole |
24 September 1717
London, Great Britain
|Died||2 March 1797 (aged 79) |
Berkeley Square, London, Great Britain
|Resting place||St Martin Churchyard, |
Norfolk, United Kingdom
|Residence||Strawberry Hill, London|
|Alma mater||Eton College |
King’s College, Cambridge
|Parents||Robert Walpole and Catherine Shorter|
Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (24 September 1717 – 2 March 1797), was an English art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and politician. He is now largely remembered for Strawberry Hill, the home he built in Twickenham, south-west London where he revived the Gothic style some decades before his Victorian successors, and for his Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto. Along with the book, his literary reputation rests on his Letters, which are of significant social and political interest. He was the son of Sir Robert Walpole, and cousin of the 1st Viscount Nelson.
 Early life
Walpole was born in London, the youngest son of British Prime Minister Robert Walpole. Like his father, he was educated at Eton College and King's College, Cambridge. After university, Walpole went on the Grand Tour with the poet Thomas Gray, but they did not get on well. During his time in France, he bonded with the society hostess Madame du Deffand, but there is no evidence of a sexual relationship between the two.
Walpole returned to England in 1741, entering Parliament, becoming Member of Parliament for Callington, Cornwall. He remained an MP after the death of his father in 1745 and this would last until 1768. He was never politically ambitious, although he was involved in the John Byng case of 1757.
His lasting architectural creation is Strawberry Hill, the home he built in Twickenham, south-west London, in which he revived the Gothic style many decades before his Victorian successors. This fanciful neo-Gothic concoction began a new architectural trend. His father was created Earl of Orford in 1742. Horace's elder brother, the 2nd Earl of Orford (c.1701–1751), passed the title on to his son, the 3rd Earl of Orford (1730–1791). When the 3rd Earl died unmarried, Horace Walpole became the 4th Earl of Orford, and the title died with him in 1797.
In 1769, the forger Thomas Chatterton sent Rowley's History of England, allegedly by Rowley, to Walpole, who was briefly taken in. When Chatterton killed himself in 1770, Walpole was accused of having provoked the suicide.
Following his father's politics, he was a devotee of King George II and Queen Caroline, siding with them against their son, Frederick, Prince of Wales, about whom Walpole wrote spitefully in his memoirs. Walpole was a frequent visitor to Boyle Farm, Thames Ditton, to meet both the Boyle-Walsinghams and Lord Hertford.
In 1764, not using his own press, he anonymously published his Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto, claiming on its title page that it was a translation "from the Original Italian of Onuphirio Muralto". The second edition's preface, according to James Watt, "has often been regarded as a manifesto for the modern Gothic romance, stating that his work, now subtitled 'A Gothic Story', sought to restore the qualities of imagination and invention to contemporary fiction". However, there is a playfulness in the prefaces to both editions and in the narration within the text itself. The novel opens with the son of Manfred (the Prince of Otranto) being crushed under a massive helmet that appears as a result of supernatural causes. However, that moment, along with the rest of the unfolding plot, includes a mixture of both ridiculous and sublime supernatural elements. The plot finally reveals how Manfred's family is tainted in a way that served as a model for successive Gothic plots.
From 1762 on, Walpole published his Anecdotes of Painting in England, based on George Vertue's manuscript notes. His memoirs of the Georgian social and political scene, though heavily biased, are a useful primary source for historians.
Walpole's numerous letters are similarly useful as a historical resource. In one, dating from 28 January 1754, he coined the word serendipity which he said was derived from a "silly fairy tale" he had read, The Three Princes of Serendip. The oft-quoted epigram, "This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel," is from a letter of Walpole's to Anne, Countess of Ossory, on 16 August 1776. The original, fuller version appeared in a letter to Sir Horace Mann on 31 December 1769: "I have often said, and oftener think, that this world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel – a solution of why Democritus laughed and Heraclitus wept."
In Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of King Richard III (1768), Walpole defended Richard III against the common belief that he murdered the Princes in the Tower. In this he has been followed by other writers, such as Josephine Tey and Valerie Anand. This work, according to Emile Legouis, shows that Walpole was "capable of critical initiative".
- Major Works
- Some Anecdotes of Painting in England (1762)
- The Castle of Otranto (1764)
- The Mysterious Mother (1768)
- Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of Richard III (1768)
- On Modern Gardening (1780)
- A Description of the Villa of Mr. Horace Walpole (1784)
- Hieroglyphic Tales (1785)
 Personal life
Walpole's sexual orientation has been the subject of speculation. He never married, engaging in a succession of unconsummated flirtations with unmarriageable women, and counted among his close friends a number of women such as Anne Seymour Damer and Mary Berry named by a number of sources as lesbian. Many contemporaries described him as effeminate (one political opponent called him "a hermaphrodite horse"). Some previous biographers such as Lewis, Fothergill, and Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer, however, have interpreted Walpole as asexual.
Walpole died in 1797, after which his title became extinct. The massive amount of correspondence he left behind had been published in many volumes, starting in 1798. Likewise, a large collection of his works, including historical writings, was published immediately after his death.
 Formal styles from birth to death
- Mr Horace Walpole (1717–1741)
- Mr Horace Walpole, MP (1741–1742)
- The Hon. Horace Walpole, MP (1742–1768)
- The Hon. Horace Walpole (1768–1791)
- The Rt Hon. The Earl of Orford (1791–1797)
- ^ first-cousin twice-removed, i.e. 1st cousin to Nelson's grandmother
- ^ Walpole, Horace in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
- ^ a b c Legouis 1957 p. 906
- ^ Verberckmoes 2007 p. 77
- ^ Frank p. 39
- ^ Verberckmoes, p.77
- ^ Watt 2004 p. 120
- ^ Watt 2004 p. 120–121
- ^ Norton 2003
- ^ Langford 2004
- ^ Haggert 2006
 See also
- Frank, Frederick, "Introduction" in The Castle of Otranto.
- Haggerty, George. "Queering Horace Walpole". SEL 1500–1900 46.3 (2006): 543–562
- Hiller, Bevis. Who's Horry now?. The Spectator, September 14, 1996
- Langford, Paul. "Walpole, Horatio , fourth earl of Orford (1717–1797)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2005 accessed 19 Aug 2007
- Legouis, Emile. A History of English Literature. Trans. Louis Cazamian. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1957.
- Mowl, Timothy. Horace Walpole: The Great Outsider. London: Murray, 1998. ISBN 0719556198
- Norton, Rictor (Ed.), "A Sapphick Epistle, 1778". Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 1 December 1999, updated 23 February 2003 <http://www.infopt.demon.co.uk/sapphick.htm> Retrieved on 2007-08-16
- Watt, James. "Gothic" in The Cambridge Companion to English Literature 1740–1830 ed. Thomas Keymer and Jon Mee, 119–138. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
- Verberckmoes, Johan (2007). Geschiedenis van de Britse eilanden. Leuven: Uitgeverij Acco Leuven. ISBN 978 90 334 6549 9.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Horace Walpole|
|Wikisource has original works written by or about: Horace Walpole|
- The Literary Encyclopedia.
- Works by Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford at Project Gutenberg
- The Friends of Strawberry Hill
- The Twickenham Museum - Horace Walpole
- "The Walpole Cabinet". Furniture. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2007-08-12.
- Works by or about Horace Walpole in libraries (WorldCat catalog)