Edward Everett Root Publishers Co. Ltd.
Or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century
by Jane Webb (later Jane C. Loudon)
Edited with notes by Nickianne Moody and Andy Sawyer
About this book
This famous, strange, wild novel was first issued anonymously by the ‘Prince of Puffers’, the fashionable publisher Henry Colburn, as a three-volume novel in 1827. This new scholarly edition places it in its previous and contemporary contexts. It concerns the Egyptian mummy of Cheops, who is brought back to life in the year 2126. The novel describes a future filled with advanced technology and features one of the earliest known examples of a "Mummy's curse. It attempted to predict the state of improvement to which this country might possibly arrive.
Jane Loudon (c.1807-1858) was a definite product of the changing ideas about women’s involvement in education, literature and the arts. She was interested in science for the whole of her life and participated in journalism and popular science writing. She is best known for promoting women’s practical involvement in horticulture.
The Mummy!: or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century was published when she was twenty. It was reviewed favourably by a society which connected ancient Egypt with spectacle, antiquarian interest and as an example of a stable civilisation. Loudon’s imagination of the future explores changes in society, technology and gendered experience which are significant to understand the culture of the period, the development of women’s writing and the origins of science and speculative writing.
This edition contextualises the narrative in relation to social change and reform in the early part of the 19th-century. It considers new research on Loudon’s life and career and it examines the relationship between this text and other early science and fantastic writing which emerge into distinct genres during this period.
Loudon may have drawn inspiration from the general fashion for anything Pharaonic, inspired by French researches during the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt. There was also the 1821 public unwrappings of Egyptian mummies in a theatre near Piccadilly, which she may have attended as a girl. She also very likely read the 1818 novel by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein. Loudon deals in greater clarity with elements from the earlier book: the loathing for the much-desired object, the immediate arrest for crime and attempt to lie one's way out of it. Loudon’s ‘Mummy’ gives shrewd advice on politics and life to those who befriend him.
About the authors
Nickianne Moody was Principal Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Liverpool John Moores University and a trustee of the Science Fiction Foundation. She was interested in early science fiction and fantasy writing particularly by women writers, gothic and late twentieth century feminist and cyberpunk utopias and dystopias. Her research was based on the Liddell Hart Collection of Costume held at Liverpool John Moores University and co-ordinating public engagement with the Femorabilia Collection. Her publications include work on most popular genres, nineteenth and twentieth-century fiction, popular culture and more specifically cultures of reading.
Andy Sawyer is an Honorary Research Fellow in the English Department at the University of Liverpool. He was formerly librarian of the Science Fiction Foundation Collection at the University of Liverpool Library. From 2002-2012 he was director of the MA in Science Fiction Studies for the School of English, University of Liverpool, and also taught 3rd-year undergraduate modules on the subject. He is Reviews Editor of Foundation: the International Review of Science Fiction and was Guest Curator of the British Library Exhibition “Out of This World: Science Fiction But Not as You Know It” in 2011. He was also an advisor to the “Into the Unknown” exhibition at the Barbican Centre, London in 2017. He most recently co-edited (with Peter Wright) Teaching Science Fiction (2011).
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