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Hopkins, Pauline

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1859-1940) US editor, journalist, playwright, actor and author active from around 1880, whose difficult literary career (she was African-American) ended after the publication of her fourth novel, Of One Blood; Or, the Hidden Self (November 1902-January 1903 The Colored American Magazine; 2004). The protagonist of the tale – a medical student in Boston named Reuel Briggs, passing for white at a time of ferocious prejudice in America – becomes enamoured of a mysterious woman who turns out to be the Reincarnation of a Princess of the Ethiopian Lost World of Meroe, whose inhabitants had enjoyed paradisal lives. As part of his effort to cure her of insistent Amnesia – which Hopkins treats as a hysteria that masks from its victims, regardless of gender, the terrible cost of being of African descent in America (see Race in SF) – Briggs, no longer disguising his background, travels to Ethiopia, where he discovers himself to be the king of Meroe, a high-Technology Utopia. Here he discovers evidence of the essential oneness of the varieties of Homo sapiens (see Biology; Evolution).

Hopkins has persuasively been called the first American exponent of Afrofuturism. [JC]

Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins

born Portland, Maine: 13 August 1859

died Cambridge, Massachusetts: 13 August 1940

works (selected)


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