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Haldane, Charlotte

Entry updated 24 August 2020. Tagged: Author.

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(1894-1969) UK author, married to J B S Haldane (1926-1945) and sister-in-law of Naomi Mitchison; her early work, mostly journalism with Feminist implications, was usually published as by Charlotte Burghes. Her Scientific Romance, Man's World (1926), explicitly draws not only on her husband's arguments in Dedalus; Or, Science and the Future (1923 chap), but on Bertrand Russell's riposte in the same To-day and To-morrow series, Icarus; Or, the Future of Science (1924 chap). The tale is a Dystopia set in a twenty-first-century society which divides women into sterilized professional "entertainers" and a caste of sainted breeders (see Women in SF); the tale presents a strongly ambivalent take on the Eugenic thinking responsible, but eventually seems to suggest that the social cost of improving the human stock by fiat has been too high, even though women are in fact better off here than Burghes/Haldane earlier argued was the case in the real world. The racism delineated – whites have risen to new biological heights while Blacks are systematically poisoned – is also ambivalent in the telling. Haldane shared publishers and friends with Aldous Huxley, and it is reasonable to think of Man's World as a clear influence on Brave New World (1932).

Other works of some interest include Melusine, or Devil Take Her! (1936), a fantasy about the survival of witches in Christian Europe, and The Shadow of a Dream (1952), which treats second sight as a Psi Power. [JC]

Charlotte Franken Haldane

born London: 27 April 1894

died London: 16 March 1969



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