JF Ptak Science Books Post 1599
This is a short tale of two novels of the future. They both speak of utopias, they both were written in the 19th century, and (unusually) they both have the same title--but so far as the future of women goes, they have little in common.
Three Hundred Years Hence, the novel title in question, was first published in 1836, and was the property of Mary Griffith (1772–1846) who presented what was at the time a strongly pro-woman utopia set in the future, --and which was also as it turns out the first novel of its kind written by a woman in the United States.
A lesser and unhappier story for women of the high Victorian mold belongs to William Delisle Hay1, whose own Three Hundred Years Hence, a Voice From Posterity (published in 1881) , elevates females to a supreme position, though without any real power or effect. (Hay has a difficult history, or so it seems to me; he also wrote on mushrooms and other fungi, as well as the Maori "problem", and had a wide strain of white suprematist running through his works.) In Hay's future, in the 23rd century, there would be a global community, and at the head of the global body would be a perfect woman, a woman who would serve a ten-year term of glory and grandeur. She would not have any real duties, however, because she was didn't have the intellectual powers of man, and so her brain would no tbe called on to perform tasks outside of womanly chores. He writes:
"...the Empress does not possess one particle of actual power...for the facilities of women are not capable of following out the highest intellectual processes, since she has a less degree of pure Reason than the man."
"...Woman (is) most emphatically fitted to display in herself the ornamental part of government...and...she is manifested as the proper director of all that relates to domestic life".
This of course is 1881.
Hay hardly stands alone in his misanthropic approach to women. Percy Greg's tale of the future in his Across the Zodiac, the Story of a Wrecked Record (1880) shows the extent of the intellectual calamity and inferiority of women extending to Mars. In this novel2 Greg's Martians have come to realize that it is not possible to elevate their women to the intellectual status of men, and that their grand experiment of equality was a failure. There were many others, of course, like Walter Besant (The Revolt of Man, 1882), who could not abide the thought of equality.
And according to the wonderful I.F. Clarke (The Pattern of Expectation, 1644-2001), there were many more who looked into the future and saw greatness and expansiveness in the equality of women. There was E.B. Corbett (New Amazonia, 1889), H.R. Dalton (Lesbia Newman, 1889), Lady Dixie (The Revilution of 1900, 1890), G.N. Miller (The Strike of Sex,1891), A.G. Mears (Mercia the Astronomer Royal, 1895), R. Buchanan, (The Rev. Annabel Lee, 1898), and Sir Julius Vogel's (Anno Domini 2000, or, Woman's Destiny, 1889), where "woman became the guiding...force of the world".
I think, that, overall, the people who saw the restriction of women in the future (near and distant) held sway, or at least the majority, of writers envisioning the sexes int he future.
* The first image is by the great and prolific and short-loved J.J. Grandville (1803-1847) for his Autre Monde (1844).
1. I have found another reference to a bitter world of the future written by Hay in the excellent Airminded blog, which records his effort at a novel of doom and destruction of the overtaken London of the future.
2. Greg's characters visit Mars via the benefits of a sort of anti-gravity spacecraft called the Astronaut, and, interestingly, the Martians had seem themselves as the only life forms in the galaxy. It is also in this novel that the first attempt at creating an alien language appears. There was also another science fiction effort by this title as well, though it really doesn't apply to what we're talking about, here. (I wonder how prevalent duplicating titles is in the sci fi genre?)