The Midnight Bell
is a gothic novel
by Francis Lathom
. It was one of the seven "horrid novels"
lampooned by Jane Austen
in her novel Northanger Abbey
- “Dear creature! How much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished Udolpho, we will read the Italian together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you.”
- “Have you, indeed! How glad I am! What are they all?”
- “I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocketbook. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time.”
- “Yes, pretty well; but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?” – Northanger Abbey, ch. 6
Subtitled "A German Story, Founded On Incidents in Real Life" it was first published in London by H. D. Symonds in 1798. It concerns the quest of the hero, Alphonsus Cohenburg, to regain his estates and stolen identity after his parents are murdered by his villainous uncle. The young man becomes a soldier, then a miner before marrying his true love Lauretta only to see her kidnapped by bandits. The latter third is set in the quintessentially gothic Cohenburg castle and features tales of ghostly apparitions who turn out to be diabolical Roman Catholic priests, another common gothic trope. The Midnight Bell of the title calls the villainous monks to their dark meeting place.
It has recently been reprinted by Valancourt Books .