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Clara Reeve

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Clara Reeve (Ipswich, 1725 - died December 3, 1807) was an English writer, best known for her gothic novel The Old English Baron, originally published under the title of "The Champion of Virtue" (1777).

Clara Reeve was one of the daughters of William Reeve, an Anglican clergyman who educated his children in classical languages and history. At an age when other children were just learning to write their names she already learned Latin and read the French historian Paul Rapin-Thoyras' L'Histoire D'Angleterre and the Lives by Plutarch. After the death of her father, she lived with her mother and two of her sisters in Colchester.

Clare Reeve had already passed fifty when she began her literary career. Her first publication was The Phoenix, a translation of a novel by the French writer Jean Argenis Bardais. The success of this book urged her to write more and five years later she published her own first novel. Originally (in 1777) it was titled "The Champion of Virtue, a Gothic Story", which in the second edition of 1778 was changed to The Old English Baron. Clara Reeve got the inspiration for her book from a gothic novel published earlier in 1764 by Horace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto, a Gothic Story.

Reeve wrote other well-received novels: The Two Mentors (1783), The Exile (1788), The School for Widows (1791), Memoirs of Sir Roger de Clarendon, the natural son of Edward the Black Prince (1793), Destination (1799), and Edwin, king of Northumberland (1802). She also wrote essays like The Progress of Romance through Times, Countries and manners (1785), and Plans of Education, with remarks on the systems or Other writers (1792).

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  • The Champion of virtue (1777)
  • Destination or memoirs of a private family (1799)
  • The Exiles (1788)
  • The Memoirs of Sir Roger de Clarendon (1793)
  • The Old English Baron (1785, revision of The Champion of virtue)
  • The Progress of romance through times, countries, and manners (1785)
  • The School for widows
  • The Two Mentors (1783)