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Ollivant, Alfred

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1874-1927) UK author who had been a soldier; a riding accident left him crippled (badly for ten years), and – long before the outbreak of World War One – he turned to writing. He remains best-known for his first book, Bob, Son of Battle (1898), about a wise and subtle sheepdog; he is of sf interest for his last book, To-morrow: A Romance of the Future (1927), in which twenty-fourth century England has become a Utopia shaped according to the arts and crafts ethos of nineteenth-century writers like William Morris, though Eugenics, described in terms extremely popular in the 1920s, are rigorously applied to control population and to improve the racial stock. Ollivant articulates his social structure with some care: citizens are in Service until the age of 28, during which period they do the grunt work of running the country; afterwards, they become either Aspirants or Contents, the former being the shapers of the world. The Isle of Wight is, on the other hand, a Dystopia, where life is nasty, brutish, short, and prurient: in the terms of Ollivant's Satire, just like 1927 in the real world. The plot involves the wise inventor of various devices dependent on mental power, including Telepathy and willed flight; he dies, and his protegé continues his work. Ollivant's overall benevolent view of the future distinguishes To-morrow from most Scientific Romances published in the years after the end of World War One, in which most of their authors served: Ollivant, as noted above, was of an earlier generation. [JC]

Alfred Ollivant

born Old Charlton, Kent: 11 May 1874

died London: 19 January 1927



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