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Wilson, William

Entry updated 29 September 2020. Tagged: Author.

(circa 1826-1886) UK poet, publisher and author whose book of criticism, A Little Earnest Book upon a Great Old Subject: With the Story of the Poet-Lover (coll 1851), is of interest (see Definitions of SF). In Chapter X, "Science-Fiction – R H Horne's Poor Artist – Notice of the Same ...", he discusses R H Horne's lightly fictionalized discourse on Art, The Poor Artist; Or, Seven Eye-sights and One Object: "Science in Fable" (1850), which in the style of the Beast Fable [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] describes an object as it is perceived by six species: bee, ant, spider, perch, robin and cat. This technique Wilson takes to be "a means of familiarizing science", adding that

We hope it will not be long before we may have other works of Science-Fiction, as we believe such books likely to fulfil a good purpose, and create an interest, where, unhappily, science alone might fail.... [Thomas] Campbell [1777-1844] says that "Fiction in Poetry is not the reverse of truth, but her soft and enchanting resemblance". Now this applies especially to Science-Fiction, in which the revealed truths of Science may be given, interwoven with a pleasing story which may itself be poetical and true – thus circulating a knowledge of the Poetry of Science, clothed in a garb of the Poetry of Life. [pp137-140]

Edgar Allan Poe's short story, "William Wilson" (in The Gift: A Christmas and New Year's Present, anth 1839 dated 1840), a horror tale involving a double or Doppelganger, shares the name but nothing else with Wilson. [BS/JC]

Effingham William Wilson

born circa 1826

died Bloomsbury [now London]: 4 July 1886


about the author

  • Richard Bleiler. "William Wilson: The Creator of 'Science-Fiction'" (November 2011 Science Fiction Studies Vol 38, Part 3, Whole #115) [identifies Wilson and gives biographical detail: p562: mag/]


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