Entry updated 16 April 2021. Tagged: Author.
(1856-1925) UK editor and author, active from before 1890, mostly on rural themes, his earlier work including The Rural Exodus: The Problem of the Village and the Town (1892) and The Victorian Era (1897). Graham's infrequent fiction, including The Red Scaur: A Novel of Manners (1897), is nonfantastic, with the exception of his last major work, The Collapse of Homo Sapiens (1923), a Ruined Earth Scientific Romance reflecting the apocalypse-obsessed aftermath of World War One. Its "editor" presents the accumulated notes and transcriptions of a man who, at spiritual odds with the new world, has communicated with an Alien entity able and willing to project him 200 years into the future (see Time Travel). He arrives in the ruins of London, and soon encounters "knights" in ancient armour (see Medieval Futurism), which they don to overawe the innumerable degenerate monkey-like creatures (see Apes as Human) who threaten them.
The knights turn out to be elder members of a Settlement, a non-monarchical rural community on the River Thames modestly evocative of William Morris's News from Nowhere (1890), free of Religion, organized on the principle that "Work is putting things in their places." As the protagonist learns, two Holocausts had afflicted Britain after the Great War: first, a new bomb which is the Invention of a rogue Englishman destroys London; a year or so later, an Invasion of the "coloured races", who are armed with advanced Weapons, finishes the job. Anderson's use of the word "nigger" here is framed as a local utterance; the only Black man actually encountered is a university graduate clearly more civilized than the doltish army officer who recounts that part of the complex narrative (see Race in SF).
But the planet itself (hints of Gaia are not developed) "has grown man sick", and Evolution seems to have stalled: old-stock Homo sapiens no longer breeds enough girl children to continue the race; and the dwarfish sub-folk proliferate (see Devolution). The Thames, which has already imposed one Biblical flood on the land, is about to flood again; echoes of Richard Jefferies's After London or Wild England (1885) seem intended, as does Graham's general adherence to the vision of collapse central to Edward Shanks's The People of the Ruins: A Story of the English Revolution and After (1920). The Settlement is clearly doomed. The time-traveller returns in despair to 1920. [JC]
Peter Anderson Graham
born Crookham, Northumberland: 1856 [possibly born Ford, Northumberland]
died Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire: 25 October 1925
- The Collapse of Homo Sapiens (London: G P Putnam's Sons, 1923) [hb/Stella Langdale]
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