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Rolfe, Frederick

(1860-1913) UK author and eccentric, known as much for claiming the name Baron Corvo as for his writing. The nine Reviews of Unwritten Books (February-June 1903 The Monthly Review; plus one added piece December 1904 Gentleman's Magazine; coll 1985-1988 4vols each chap) with Sholto Douglas are an early articulation of the concept of Alternate History, if only in a nonfiction format (one of the reviews, for instance, being of "Machiavelli's Despatches from the South African Campaign"). Many of his poems, about half of which went unpublished until the release of Collected Poems (coll 1974), are fantasticated or supernatural. Hubert's Arthur: Being Certain Curious Documents Found among the Literary Remains of Mr N C (written 1908-1912; 1935) with H C H Pirie-Gordon as by Prospero and Caliban, in which King John fails to kill and is overthrown by his nephew Arthur, is an early Alternate-History novel, although its late publication date precludes any influence on that genre. The Weird of the Wanderer (1912), again with Pirie-Gordon as by Prospero and Caliban, is a fantasy involving Timeslips, but Hadrian the Seventh (1904), on which Rolfe's reputation as an author almost solely rests, is a genuine Near-Future sf novel, set in 1910. Dealing with the rise to the Papacy of a frustrated English candidate for priesthood (see Decadence), the novel offers a number of predictions regarding the future of Europe, including a vision of the Russian Revolution. [GF]

Frederick William Rolfe

born London: 22 July 1860

died Venice, Italy: 25 October 1913

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Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 12:45 pm on 28 May 2024.
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