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Richardson, Frank

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1870-1917) UK barrister and author, mostly of light fiction; he was the coiner of the term "face-fungus" to describe whiskers. The Bayswater Miracle (1903) mildly examines Gender issues through an Identity Exchange between a man and a woman; though it lacks any sf rationale, it is unusual in that the exchange is irreversible, with the reluctant male narrator, now physically female, marrying his sweetheart, who is now male, and glad to be relieved of the burden of womanhood: an outcome which, in Richardson's hands, evades any Feminist message. Two further novels are of some sf interest. The Secret Kingdom (1905) is set in the spoofed Ruritanian country of Numania, next door to Ruritania itself, and features an appearance by Sherlock Holmes. More overtly fantastic is 2835 Mayfair (1907; vt The Mayfair Mystery: A Story of Crime 1929), an occult detective novel which again features Identity Transfer. An eminent doctor uses his great natural power of Hypnosis for repeated Transgender personality exchange with a plain young woman who when imbued with the doctor's charisma becomes glamorous; the mystery arises from an accident in which the male body dies while hosting the female mind. The treatment of gender is ahead of its time but the morality ultimately distasteful, with the girl's uninteresting persona regarded as expendable. [JC]

Frank Collins Richardson

born Paddington, Middlesex [now London]: 21 August 1870

died London: 31 July 1917 [body discovered 1 August]



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