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Nightmare Abbey & Crotchet Castle


Nightmare Abbey & Crotchet Castle


Nightmare Abbey concerns the unhappy love interests of one Scythrop Glowry, as those interests take shape at various times in the persons of Miss Marionetta O’Carroll and Miss Celinda Toobad.

Do these characters represent deliberate portraits of Percy Bysshe Shelley, his first wife, Harriet, and Mary Shelley?

The resemblances are, at the very least, thought provoking.

Scythrop, whenever he is not moping in his tower over one woman or another (and he spends most of his time doing just that), gives vent to his “passion for reforming the world.”

He writes a pamphlet titled “Philosophical Gas; or, a Project for a General Illumination of the Human Mind.”

This “deep scheme for a thorough repair of the crazy fabric of human nature” sells a total of seven copies.


In Crotchet Castle Thomas Love Peacock, one of the most distinctive prose satirists of the Romantic period, perfected a kind of fizzy Voltairean comedy in which humorous eccentrics and eloquently disputatious characters gather at some country estate and over bibulous dinners, argue about society, politics, books and life, while in the background young people fall in and out of love.

Its lively farce is more ambitious than that of the earlier works in its range of cultural and intellectual targets, including progressivism, dogmatism, liberalism, sexism, mass education and the idiocies of the learned.

The well-to-do Mr. Crotchet has his eye on the beautiful daughter of an impoverished knight.

As it happens, Lady Clarinda has recently thrown over a Capt. Fitzchrome because he is too poor to provide anything but "love in a cottage."

Complications ensue.

THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK (1785–1866) was an accomplished poet, essayist, opera critic, and satiric novelist. During his lifetime his works received the approbation of other writers (some of whom were Peacock’s friends and the targets of his satire), literary critics (many of whom were simply his targets), and a notoriously vocal reading public.

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