Marriott Watson, H B

Tagged: Author

(1863-1921) Australian-born editor and author, in New Zealand 1873-1885, afterwards in the UK; the son of Henry Crocker Marriott Watson. His family surname was simply Watson, but both he and his father used the fuller name in honour of the distinguished Marriott family, with whom a relationship was claimed. Although some of his stories, assembled conveniently in The Devil of the Marsh; and Other Stories (coll 2004) edited by James Doig (1965-    ), have a remote sf association, most of his short work of genre interest is fantasy, though only two collections, Diogenes of London and Other Fantasies and Sketches (coll 1893) and The Heart of Miranda and Other Stories: Being Mostly Winter Tales (coll 1898), have substantial fantastic content. Marriott Watson's first novel, Marahuna: A Romance (1888) is sf; the eponymous female – a lamia figure clearly influenced by H Rider Haggard's Ayesha, who first appears in She: A History of Adventure (1886) – is "rescued" by a research ship from near a fiery ring at the heart of a weirdly clement Antarctica, and may well come from the interior of the Earth (see Hollow Earth) in accordance with the theories of John Cleves Symmes, and in contradiction to the theory of Evolution as then held. After being taken to England where she causes romantic havoc, Marahuna (who may not be of human stock) dives into another volcano, perhaps returning home. The Princess Xenia (1899) and Alise of Astra (1910) are Ruritanian romances. Much of The Castle by the Sea (1909) takes place Underground, where ghosts and smugglers busy themselves. [JC]

Henry Brereton Marriott Watson

born Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria: 20 December 1863

died Shere, Surrey: 30 October 1921

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