A Sicilian Romance is a gothic novel by Ann Radcliffe. It was her second published work, and was first published anonymously in 1790. The plot concerns the turbulent history of the fallen aristocrats of the house of Mazzini, on the northern shore of Sicily, as related by a tourist who becomes intrigued by the stories of a monk he meets in the ruins of their doomed castle.
Ann Radcliffe (9 July 1764 – 7 February 1823) was an English author, and a pioneer of the Gothic novel. Her style is romantic in its vivid descriptions of landscapes, and long travel scenes, yet the Gothic element is obvious through her use of the supernatural. It was her technique of explained Gothicism, the final revelation of inexplicable phenomena, that helped the Gothic novel achieve respectability in the 1790s. Ann 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. Her popularity continued through the nineteenth century; for Keats, she was Mother Radcliffe, and for Scott, the first poetess of romantic fiction. Radcliffe created the novel of suspense by combining the Gothic romance of Walpole with the novel of sensibility, which focused on the proper, tender heroine and emphasized the love interest.
The Scots magazine, 1790 — A Sicilian Romance. By the authoress of The Castles of Athlin and Durbayne.—Exhibits romantic scenes, and surprising events, in elegant and animated language.
The Critical review, 1791 — This very interesting novel engages the attention, in defiance of numerous improbabilities and 'hair-breadth scapes' too often repeated.
Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, in her Letters to Mrs. Montagu, writes (December 15, 1790): I have been reading with much pleasure the Sicilian Romance. The language is elegant, the scenery exquisitely painted, the moral good, and the conduct and conclusion of the fable, I think, original. Have you read it? And do you know the name of the Authoress? I do not.