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Horace Walpole

Horace Walpole (1717-1797), 4th Earl of Orford[?] was a politician, writer and leader of the Gothic revival.

The son of prime minister Robert Walpole, he was born Horatio Walpole on September 24, 1717 in London, England. He was educated at Eton College and King's College, Cambridge. His homosexual proclivities revealed themselves early, and he is believed to have had affairs with the poet Thomas Gray, and with the 9th Earl of Lincoln[?]. Gray accompanied Walpole on the Grand Tour[?], but they quarrelled, and Walpole returned to England in 1741 and entered parliament. He was never politically ambitious, but remained an MP even after the death of his father in 1745 left him a man of independent means.

Following his father's politics, he was a devotee of King George II and Queen Caroline, siding with them against their son, Frederick, Prince of Wales, about whom Walpole wrote spitefully in his memoirs. Walpole's home, Strawberry Hill[?], near Twickenham, was a fanciful concoction of neo-Gothic which began a new architectural trend. In 1764, he published his Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto[?], setting a literary trend to go with the architecture. From 1762 on, he published his Anecdotes of Painting in England, based on George Vertue's manuscript notes. His memoirs of the Georgian social and political scene, though heavily biased, are a useful primary source for historians. He also coined the term Serendipity.

Horace Walpole died on March 2, 1797.

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