The interest of William Beckford of Fonthill (1760-1844) in Portugal is well-known through his books. But Portugal is never given the credit for all she meant to him and hence the extent of her influence and stimulation on him. It is high time that this debt we owe her is fully acknowleged. Beckford would now have been forgotten were it not for his too little read autobiographical novel Vathek, the building of Fonthill Abbey, and his two books on Portugal which finalised his literary reputation.
It is therefore remarkable and providential that his first visit to Portugal in 1787 was entirely accidental and occurred at the lowest ebb of his fortunes. From 1783 a serioes of inexorable disasters had overtaken the young man reputed to be the richest in England.
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