The Horrors of Oakendale Abbey

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The Horrors of Oakendale Abbey is a gothic novel, attributed to "Mrs Carver," published in 1797[1] in one volume by the sensationalist Minerva Press of London. It proved particularly popular with the new travelling libraries of the day. A gothic tale of horror, rather than suspense, it centres on the physical and grotesque, rather than on metaphysical terror. A US edition, printed in New York by John Harrisson, was published in 1799.[2]

It tells the story of Laura, a foundling refugee from revolutionary France, her attempted seduction at the hands of Lord Oakendale and her explorations of the haunted Cumberland abbey of the title which lead her to stumble upon a den of resurrection men and body snatchers. Unusually graphic in its depiction of death and decay, even by the standards of the day, in terms of its descriptions of the gruesome, it was republished in 2006 by Zittaw Press in the United States.[3] The book owes something to Eliza Parsons' The Castle of Wolfenbach although it dispenses with the emotional subtleties of that work.

It was possibly written by Anthony Carlisle, a well known surgeon, later knighted.[4] The name of Carver would thus be a play on the name of his occupation. In fact, the name Carlisle is mentioned in the book itself, by a guard who tells the main characters "that they frequently procured bodies after word interned at or near Carlisle."


  • Hubin, Allen J. Crime Fiction II: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1749–1990 (Completely Revised and Updated Edition.) Garland Reference Library of the Humanities. p. 134.


  1. ^ Shelton, Don (Winter 2009). "Anthony Carlisle and Mrs Carver". Romantic Textualities (Cardiff University) 19. Retrieved 2015-03-17.
  2. ^ Harrisson, J. (1799). The Horrors of Oakendale Abbey: A Romance. John Harrisson, Yorick's Head, no. 3 Peck-Slip. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  3. ^ Mrs. Carver (2006). The horrors of Oakendale Abbey. Crestline, CA: Zittaw Press. ISBN 9780976721284.
  4. ^ Shelton, Don (Winter 2009). "Anthony Carlisle and Mrs Carver". Romantic Textualities (Cardiff University) 19. Retrieved 2015-01-10.