Happy All Hallows Eve!
Though I don’t talk about it very much, I love pulp fiction novel covers. There’s something so – not tawdry, per se – but campy. Lurid even. Gothic pulp covers in particular are overdramatic and macabre. Voyeuristic in a way that should be horrifying, yet sucks you in nonetheless.
There’s a formula to these gothic romance covers. You can expect a woman running away from an unseen spectre, always at night. The background is often a castle or manor – frequently with only one lit window. Sometimes it’s a graveyard. Very, very occasionally it may be a creepy forest or church.
The heroine is the only well-lit thing in the scene, usually looking behind or off to the side in fright. And, almost always, she’s wearing a long, flowing white nightgown. One that trails behind her as she makes her terrifying escape from a mysterious villain, almost poised to trip her at the exactly right (or exactly wrong) moment. Something that will look just as elegant once she’s a ghost.
For your viewing pleasure and grisly delight, here are 10 nightgowns for your very own gothic romance escape. I also want to extend a very warm “Thank you” to Sweet Nothings for providing the original inspiration for this post as well as Pulp Librarian for being one of the most incredible resources for this pulp genre. In addition to pulp, there’s a reference or two to aesthetics of Crimson Peak in here as well.
Finally, while all the items below are from contemporary designers (and a great place to start your gothic nightgown search), don’t underestimate the vintage sections of sites like Etsy. Vanity Fair in particular seems to have inspired many of the cover looks from this era.
And one more gothic romance cover…as a treat!