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Hawthorne, Julian

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1846-1934) US author, journalist and anthologist, the son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, of whom he wrote a biography, and father of writer Hildegarde Hawthorne (1871-1952). Julian forever lived in the shadow of his father and never mustered even a fraction of Nathaniel's reputation; indeed he sullied the family name when he became inadvertently involved in a speculation fraud in 1908 which made others rich and put him in gaol for a few months in 1913. In a writing career that spanned sixty-four years, Hawthorne produced almost thirty novels and a dozen collections of short stories (and many more stories uncollected). He frequented literary circles, especially during his years in London from 1874 to 1882, and was much travelled. He was a follower of the philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg whose beliefs, particularly in the potential of the mind for psychic projection, Telepathy and astral travel, will be found in many of his stories and novels. With his first novel, Bressant (1873), he earned a reputation as a writer of Gothic melodramas, a genre still popular at the start of his career but outmoded by the turn of the century. Several of his early stories may be seen as Gothic SF or even Proto SF. Archibald Malmaison (1879) is an early study of dual personality (see Psychology). The potential of Hypnosis had been considered as early as Mrs Gainsborough's Diamonds (April 1878 New Quarterly Magazine; 1878) but was used more extensively in The Professor's Sister (1888; vt The Spectre of the Camera, 1888) where it induces a form of Suspended Animation. The idea that a human personality might be transferred, via blood, into a tree is the basis of Kildhurm's Oak (May-August 1880 Belgravia; 1889). Hawthorne also incorporated Timeslips into his noted Vampire story, "Ken's Mystery" (November 1883 Harper's New Monthly Magazine), where the transition is induced by a magic ring, and "My Friend Paton" (September 1883 Belgravia), where the catalyst is a ghost. The Golden Fleece (May 1892 Lippincott's Monthly Magazine; 1896) is a Lost Race tale.

Hawthorne's interest in physical rather than occult science also manifested early in stories such as "The Mullenville Mystery" (April 1872 Scribner's Monthly; rev vt "An Automatic Enigma" May 1878 Belgravia) in which sufficient doubt is left to make it uncertain whether an Automaton is genuine or a fake. He considers a Scientist's unorthodox and immoral approach to experimentation in "Professor Weisheit's Experiment" (May 1886 Lippincott's Magazine). "My Own Story", one of the Club Story sequences in Six Cent Sam's (coll of linked stories 1893; vt Mr Dunton's Inventions and Other Stories 1896), uses vibrations to make an inanimate butterfly fly but also to revive a dead child. "Hearn's Romance" (December 1902 Cosmopolitan) reveals a Lost World, which may have been accessed through a dimensional shift. "The Men of the Dark" (August 1906 Metropolitan Magazine) is also a Lost-Race story depicting a race of Underground troglodytes who have inhabited a deep Andean cave for so many generations that they are blind.

According to Jessica Amanda Salmonson in her introduction to her collection of his supernatural fiction, The Rose of Death and other Mysterious Delusions (coll 1997), Hawthorne wrote several sf stories that remained unpublished, including the feminist Utopia "A Woman of 1992". "An Inter-Planetary Episode" (19 March 1892 Two Tales Weekly), includes astral travel to Mars, whilst "Barr's Problem" (issue unidentified, also in Two Tales Weekly) involves shifting between Dimensions. A rather more traditional sf tale is "June, 1993" (February 1893 Cosmopolitan), a Sleeper Awakes story which considers the impact on society of the aeroplane and assumes future individuals will each have their private plane, reducing the need for Cities and encouraging racial integration. Hawthorne's longest work of this kind is "The Cosmic Courtship" (24 November-19 December 1917 All-Story Weekly), one of the earliest Space Operas. The tale is set in the year 2001, where everyone has individual flying belts, and there is equality amongst the sexes. Experiments with Matter Transmission develop a form of astral travel which leads to adventures on Saturn.

None of Hawthorne's science fiction has been uniformly collected and a full analysis of his work is awaited. [MA]

see also: Edgar Fawcett.

Julian Hawthorne

born Boston, Massachusetts: 22 June 1846

died San Francisco, California: 14 July 1934

works (selected)


works as editor


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