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Horatio William Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford
(September 24, 1717 - March 2, 1797) U.K.

Horace Walpole

Novelist, politician and antiquarian


Born in London, the son of prime minister Robert Walpole, Horatio "Horace" studied at Eton and King's Colleg, Cambridge. He was a Whigh member of parliament (1741-97), but his principal interest was letter-writing (more than 3,000 survive). In other works he exerted a great influence on the literature, design, and architecture of his time.

He converted his house at Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, into a Gothic castle, wher he set also a tipography. His The Castle of Otranto (1764) established the genre of the gothic novel, and a forerunner of the modern terror-mystery genre. He collected a library of literary and historic works, for more than 15 thousand books.

Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, Walpole's homosexuality was ignored and even rebutted until the 1960s. Walpole had a loving teenage relationship with Henry Fiennes-Clinton, 9th Earl of Lincoln and later 2nd Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyma, who subsequently married. Walpole and poet Thomas Grasy were lovers who traveled the continent together from 1739-41. Their flamboyant style of living and writing brought new flourishes to their era in England.

Walpole never married and died in his London house in Berkeley Square.



  • Memoirs of the Last Years of George II (1751)
  • Catalogue of the Royal and Noble Authors of England (1758)
  • Anecdotes of Painting in England (1763)
  • The Castle of Otranto (1764)
  • The Mother (1768)
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