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Atherton, Gertrude

Entry updated 14 November 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1857-1948) US author, biographer and historian. In a long career that extended from 1882 to 1946 she published about 50 books in a multitude of genres, beginning to publish work of genre interest with "The Caves of Death" for San Francisco News Letter in 1886; her first novel was an occult romance involving metempsychosis, What Dreams May Come: A Romance (1888) as by Frank Lin (see Reincarnation). In The White Morning: A Novel of the Power of the German Women in Wartime (short version December 1917 McClure's: much exp, dated 1918 but 1917), which is set in the very Near Future, German women arrange a simultaneous behind-the-lines demolition of German war materiel, bring down the patriarchical monarchy, establish a left-wing government under the control of their female leader (see Feminism; Women in SF), and end World War One; this averts the suicidal consequences of a punitive settlement, in which "the conquerors ... would show no mercy." On that score, Atherton was tragically prescient. In Black Oxen (1923), a novel whose sexual implications caused a scandal, women (only) are rejuvenated by X-rays directed to the gonads (see Rejuvenation). Though her explicitness and exuberance would not be remarked upon today, she achieved some notoriety in her prime as a female writer who spoke of erotic matters; she was also a campaigning (though ambivalent) feminist. [JC]

Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton

born San Francisco, California: 30 October 1857

died San Francisco, California: 14 June 1948


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