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Peattie, Elia Wilkinson

Entry updated 9 August 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1862-1935) US journalist and author, influential and extremely prolific in both capacities; in her column (1890-1896) for the Omaha World-Herald, she took controversial positions, including a condemnation of the massacre of Native Americans at Wounded Knee on 29 December 1890. Her supernatural fiction, which includes the book-length "The Fountain of Youth: A Romance of the Supernatural" (28 October 1894-13 January 1895 Omaha World-Herald) and the tales assembled as The Shape of Fear and Other Ghostly Tales (coll 1898), is competent; as is her work for children, including Edda and the Oak (1911; vt A Christmas Party for Santa Claus 1912 as by Ida Huntington).

Peattie is of sf interest for two speculative texts. In The American Peasant: A Timely Allegory (1892) as Another, with Thomas Henry Tibbles, a message in a cylinder is found on a Seattle beach containing the narrative of an Arctic explorer, whose ship sinks, casting him into Sorosa, a Lost World whose inhabitants, survivors of the last days of Pompeii, have created a seeming clement Utopia, conceived in moderately Feminist terms. But a Civil War over the Slavery issue wreaks havoc, and the damaged world is pushed closer to the brink by a ruthless capitalist visitor. But Sorosis (which means "womens' club") is saved from capitalism when its citizens learn to coin their own money, and follow other precepts common to late nineteenth-century Populism in America. The Precipice (1915) follows the life story into the very Near Future of a young feminist woman who chooses a life of radical protest, one particularly successful speech leading to the creation of a Federal Bureau of Children. [JC]

Elia Wilkinson Peattie

born Kalamazoo, Michigan: 15 January 1862

died Wellingford, Vermont: 12 July 1935

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