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Hope, Anthony

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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Working name of UK barrister, politician and author Anthony Hope Hawkins (1863-1933), known as Anthony Hawkins in the first professions here listed; active as a writer from before 1890. His interest in imaginary lands preceded his most famous work, beginning with his first novel, A Man of Mark (1890), a romance set in the South American country of Aureataland; and continuing with Sport Royal (in Sport Royal and Other Stories coll 1894). His relevance to sf is indirect though pervasive. Ruritania – the imaginary country in the Polish/German (now Polish-Czech) borderlands where the action of The Prisoner of Zenda: Being the History of Three Months in the Life of an English Gentleman (1894) takes place – is the locus classicus for many similar imaginary lands, governed by petty monarchs with large families, in a very considerable number of Planetary Romances and Space Operas (for tales that retell or are influenced by The Prisoner of Zenda see again Ruritania; see also Medieval Futurism). As in the Lost World novels and early swashbuckler tales which clearly inspired Hope, the protagonist of his tale (Rudolf Rassendyll) travels to a dream-like feudal world, discovers he is the Double [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] of a member of the royal family, in his case the King himself, and saves his life by impersonating him, falling in love en passant with the royal's fiancee, though nobly (being English) he exiles himself. Beyond a plethora of coincidences and doublings, and a dream-like sense of magic enablement, there is nothing inherently fantasticated in Hope's actual tales, beyond the fact that Ruritania does not exist. The Heart of Princess Osra (August 1895-February 1896 McClure's Magazine; coll of linked stories 1896) contains romantic tales set in Zenda a century earlier.

Unlike most Lost Worlds, Ruritania survives the ministrations of its dreamer, though Rudolf himself does not survive the direct sequel, Rupert of Hentzau [for subtitle see Checklist below] (1898), during the course of which – having replaced his Double the now-dead King – he is assassinated before he can resolve a moral dilemma whose force may have been limited primarily to British readers increasingly ill-at-ease over the unassuageable swelling of their Empire (see Imperialism). Hope's focus on Rupert's dilemma – whether to continue his just rule of Ruritania in the arms of the woman he loves and who loves him; or "honourably" to retire from the land he has conquered – may have limited the appeal of this novel for later generations, not only because the dilemma is fake, but because the underlying realities of empire are subject to a denial whose piety now seems offensive.

Later works include the inferior Sophy of Kravonia (1906), which is set in the eponymous ruritania. Anthony Hawkins was knighted in 1918 for his propaganda work during World War One. [JC]

Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins

born London: 9 February 1863

died Walton on the Hill, Surrey: 8 July 1933

works (highly selected)



individual titles

collections and stories

  • Sport Royal and Other Stories (London: A D Innes and Company, 1893) [coll: hb/]
    • Sport Royal (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1907) [novella: chap: taken from the above: illus/hb/Will Jenkins and Simon Werner]

about the author


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