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Farrow, G E

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1862-1919) UK author whose work as been thought of as being almost exclusively of Fantasy for children, often showing the direct influence of Lewis Carroll. None of his books are easily understood as sf, though two of his earlier tales involve journeys in space: in The Missing Prince (1896), a Pierrot character descends to Earth from the Moon; and the protagonists of The Mandarin's Kite; Or, Little Tsu-Foo and Another Boy (1900) travel to the world of Pars in a solar system where the planets are linked by electric cables. The title story of The Cinematograph Train and Other Stories (coll 1904) is a very early Cinema fantasy, whose young protagonist travels by the eponymous train into fantasy countries.

Frustratingly for modern readers, the Wallypug series beginning with The Wallypug of Why (1895) is vitiated by uneasy condescensions directed towards the children deemed to be its primary readers, and by Farrow's almost inveterate practice, throughout his career, of framing his narratives as dreams from which the reader awakens. This vitiating practice, which may be seen as almost pathologically self-destructive, and certainly helps explain his posthumous obscurity, is particularly damaging in the Wallypug books, which feature the adventures of the eponymous monarch of Why, a Beast Fable land [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under link below] which exists in another Dimension; these adventures, once the disqualifying dream frame is discounted, interestingly combine fantasy and modestly imaginative sf (or, more fairly, Proto SF) material, including the Fantastic Voyage, some mild Satire of life in the UK in The Wallypug in London (1898), and, once again, space travel in The Wallypug in the Moon; Or, his Badjesty (1905), where Wallypug finds himself visiting a heavily populated Moon. The same exculpatory frame, when applied to The Escape of the Mullingong: A Zoological Nightmare (November 1904-March 1905 Strand; 1907), frivolously exposes a contemporary European dis-ease (see Apes as Human; Evolution) about the kinship between humans and "animals"; the tale itself is much indebted to Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark (1876 chap), with the Mullingong as elusive as the Snark, and the Zoo never escaped from. [JC]

George Edward Farrow

born Ipswich, Suffolk: 17 March 1862

died 1919

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