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Birkenhead, The Earl of

Entry updated 18 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

Title and working name of UK lawyer, politician and author Frederick Edwin Smith (1872-1930), an upwardly-mobile, hugely energetic and ambitious Tory, the kind of figure who informs much of the work of John Buchan and who dies (in Buchan's work and in life) from overwork; he was ennobled upon becoming Lord Chancellor in 1919. He is of sf interest for the surprising combination of sober prescience and tomfoolery in the nonfiction 100 Years from Now ... (1929 Hearst International-Cosmopolitan: 1929 chap), which was a kind of teaser for the equally erratic full-length The World in 2030 A.D. (March-June 1929 Nash's Magazine; exp 1930). Much influenced by the Biological speculations of J B S Haldane, and a strong advocate of Eugenics in order to save humanity from Devolution, Birkenhead is strong on Technology and weak on women, whom he considered culpably unlikely to accept ectogenesis or, by clear implication, the kind of Genetically Engineered class system. Aldous Huxley, taking off from hints in The World in 2030 A.D., transfigured this scenario in Brave New World (1932). [JC]

Frederick Edwin Smith

born Birkenhead, Cheshire: 12 July 1872

died London: 30 September 1930

works

  • 100 Years from Now ... (New York: Cosmopolitan, 1929) [nonfiction: chap: pb/]
  • The World in 2030 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1930) [nonfiction: exp from four articles in Nash's Magazine March-June 1929, originally titled "The World in 2029 AD" "The War in 2029", "Industry in 2029" and "Everyday Life in 2029": hb/E McKnight Kauffer]

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