Introduced by Devendra P. Varma
Illustrated by Charles Stewart
This captivating gothic thriller is accompanied by intricate illustrations and introduced by a passionate advocate of the genre.
At The Folio Society’s first illustration exhibition, held at the Royal Festival Hall in 1984, Charles Stewart handed us 30 exquisite illustrations for Uncle Silas. Almost 70 years old, he had long been obsessed with this gripping psychological thriller. Our encounter with him inspired the Folio edition, first published in 1988. In 2014, the Royal Academy ran an exhibition dedicated to Stewart’s illustrations for the book. The introduction is by Devendra P. Varma, who was one of the world’s foremost authorities on gothic literature. In his impassioned and atmospheric tribute to Le Fanu, he describes how the untimely death of the author’s wife deepened his melancholic and reclusive nature, such that he became known as ‘the Invisible Prince’. From his tormented dreams emerged the extraordinary Uncle Silas.
Read more about Charles Stewart’s illustrations on The Folio Blog here.
‘His greatest gothic mystery’
The innocent and unworldly Maud Ruthyn is heiress to the not inconsiderable Ruthyn fortune. Her father is pious and austere, while his brother Silas, a former rake, lives in near-poverty in the decaying mansion of Bartram-Haugh, feared and shunned following the gruesome presumed suicide of a creditor there. When Maud’s father dies, a curious clause in his will is revealed: Maud is to stay at Bartram-Haugh under Silas’s guardianship and, should she die before her 21st birthday, all her inheritance will pass on to him.
George Bernard Shaw once said that the true horror of hell is that nothing there is real, and this is Maud’s experience of Bartram-Haugh. Even the jolly vulgarity of Cousin Milly and the bracing common sense of Monica Knollys cannot protect her from her ghosts – Madame de la Rougierre, ‘a large-featured smirking phantom in the moonlight’, and Uncle Silas himself, drugged with laudanum, fiery-eyed and occult-obsessed. As the suspense mounts (in a manner worthy of Wilkie Collins at his best) Maud finds herself alone, and, in a terrifying and unexpected climax, finally confronts her enemies.
‘There remains always a softening veil of romance and mystery, even in his most gruesome scenes of horror’
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Review by PAULALOUD on 9th Mar 2016
"This Gothic Victorian classic by J. Sheridan LeFanu is a newfound treasure. Uncle Silas is more of a psychological thriller in the Gothic genre. It uses the device of the foreboding grand estate fall..." [read more]
Review by georgian on 15th Aug 2015
"I fully concur with the previous review regarding aspects of the binding. The spine design itself always seemed far too "fussy" - from a distance it just looks like a blur. The illustrations inside ho..." [read more]
Review by davidjbrown10 on 12th Aug 2015
"As an owner of the 1988 original Uncle Silas, I can enthusiastically recommend the novel — a terrific story, and the many illustrations by Charles Stewart in the Folio edition positively reek of Got..." [read more]