Cognitive and material frames surround us and serve as a central strategy of making sense of the world. Throughout centuries, literary texts reflect on the power of the frame. The thesis explores the way framed narratives have changed in form and function, and retraces the nexus between cultural context and narrative structure. It traces formal experiments with narrative framings back to early Romanticism. Starting with a bestseller from the 18th century, Horace Walpole's intricately framed 'The Castle of Otranto' (1764), and moving on to a later proponent of Romantic fiction, Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' (1818), via Joseph Conrad's proto-Modernist 'Heart of Darkness' (1899/1902), to an example of postmodern historiographic metafiction, Adam Thorpe's 'Hodd' (2009), the study travels through literary history, and, using these influential texts as examples, aims to show how frame-narratives have evolved both in form and function.