Entry updated 28 July 2021. Tagged: Author.
Working name of Irish-born UK editor, entrepreneur, playwright and author James Thomas Harris (1856-1931), who early in his life became a lawyer in the USA, but was back in the UK by 1875, using his working name from this point; he left the UK for good at the beginning of World War One. During his lifetime, he was famous for his extremely loud voice, his sexual exploits, and for general roguery; he is now best known for his erotic autobiography, My Life and Loves (1922-1927), which first appeared in five privately published volumes. Portraits of him appear in Frederic Carrel's The Adventure of John Johns (1987) (as John Johns), a highly inaccurate rendering; in H G Wells's The War in the Air (1908) (as Alfred Butteridge); and elsewhere. As editor of The Fortnightly Review 1886-1894, he published very early work of both George Bernard Shaw and H G Wells. Of his fiction, The Bomb (1908) sets violent anarchistic events in motion in Chicago, but is not fantastic. "The Veils of Isis" (in The Yellow Ticket and Other Stories, coll 1914; rev vt The Veils of Isis 1915) is fantasy about Sex unto death.
In Harris's sf novel, Pantopia (in Undream'd of Shores, coll 1924 UK, as "The Temple of the Forgotten Dead"; much exp 1930), a young man is shipwrecked somewhere in the South Atlantic, finding himself on an Island whose Spanish-speaking socialist inhabitants have created a Utopia featuring radar, lasers, atomic power (see Power Sources) and something like free Sex, and who as a matter of course do what is good for their race in a natural fashion. Unfortunately, also as a matter of course, they execute strangers. Luckily the hero is saved by a privileged maiden, and both eventually escape. [JC]
James Thomas Harris
born Galway, Connacht, Ireland: 14 February 1856 [date and year are probable but not secure; 1854 and 1855 have also been given]
died Nice, France: 26 August 1931
works (highly selected)
- The Yellow Ticket and Other Stories (London: Grant Richards, 1914) [coll: hb/]
- The Veils of Isis (New York: George H Doran, 1915) [rev vt of the above: hb/]
- Pantopia (New York: The Panurge Press, 1930) [early version first appeared in Undream'd of Shores (coll 1924 UK), as "The Temple of the Forgotten Dead": hb/]
- Bernard Shaw: An Unauthorized Biography Based on First Hand Information with a Postscript by Mr Shaw (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1931) [nonfiction: George Bernard Shaw: hb/nonpictorial]
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