Ann Radcliffe's first book, The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne, was inspired by the historical fantasy of Sophia Lee's The Recess, while its plot seems to have been influenced by Clara Reeve's The Old English Baron. Other important precursors were Tobias Smollet (particularly Ferdinand, Count Fathom), Samuel Richardson (Clarissa) and Thomas Leland (Longsword, Earl of Salisbury), among others. Descriptions in the novels were frequently based on paintings, particularly the work of Salvator Rosa, popularized by Dashwood and Montagu's Dilittante Club.
The Italian bears frequent quotes from Horace Walpole's The Mysterious Mother and shows the influence of Matthew Lewis' The Monk. It is interesting that The Italian's heroine Ellena sketchs and her work is displayed on an ornamental cabinet in the palace of her suiter, Vivaldi. Walpole had just such a cabinet showcasing drawings by Lady Diana Beaclerk who also illustrated his incest play The Mysterious Mother. Curiously, the subject of incest later became very troubling for Diana: her son eloped with his half-sister, and had several children by her.
Radcliffe's last work, Gaston de Blondeville: or, The Court of Henry III Keeping Festival in Ardennes is an historical work in the style of Sir Walter Scott.
In turn, her works, particularly The Mysteries of Udolpho: A Romance; The Italian: or, The Confessional of the Black Penitents, and The Romance of the Forest, were widely read and imitated, influencing such writers as: Sir Walter Scott, Jane Austen, Maria Edgeworth, James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Brockden Brown, William Thackeray, Charles Dickens, Charles Maturin, Coleridge, Byron, Keats, Shelley, Bulwer-Lytton, Wilkie Collins, Sheridan Le Fanu, Henry James, and Edgar Allen Poe.
Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey is a satire of Radcliffe's gothics. Charming as were all of Mrs. Radcliffe's works, charming even as were the works of all her imitators, it was not in them, perhaps, that human nature, at least in the midland counties of England, was to be looked for.
After publishing A Journey Made in the Summer of 1794, Radcliffe, always uncomfortable with authorship, retired from writing. In 1810, the poem Ode to Terror was published which claimed that she had gone mad, having succumbed to her own terrors. In fact she did not die until 1823. Gaston de Blondeville was published posthumously.