Ann Radcliffe (born Ann Ward, 9 July 1764 – 7 February 1823) was an English author and pioneer of Gothic fiction. Her technique of explaining apparently supernatural elements in her novels has been credited with gaining Gothic fiction respectability in the 1790s. Radcliffe was the most popular writer of her day and almost universally admired; contemporary critics called her the mighty enchantress and the Shakespeare of romance-writers, and her popularity continued through the 19th century. Interest has revived in the early 21st century, with the publication of paperback reprints and three biographies.
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A couple of months ago I had a dream, which I remember with the utmost clarity. (I don't usually remember my dreams.) I dreamed I had died and gone to Heaven. I looked about and knew where I was — green fields, fleecy clouds, perfumed air, and the distant, ravishing sound of the heavenly choir. And there was the recording angel smiling broadly at me in greeting. I said in wonder, "Is this Heaven?" The recording angel said, "It is." I said (and on waking and remembering, I was proud of my integrity), "But there must be a mistake. I don't belong here. I'm an atheist." "No mistake," said the recording angel. "But as an atheist how can I qualify?" The recording angel said sternly, "We decide who qualifies. Not you." "I see," I said. I looked about, pondered for a moment, then turned to the recording angel and asked, "Is there a typewriter here that I can use?" The significance of the dream was clear to me. I felt Heaven to be the act of writing, and I have been in Heaven for over half a century, and I have always known this.
Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world.