Marriott Watson, Henry Crocker

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(1839-1901) Australian minister and writer, in New Zealand from 1873; his family surname was simply Watson, but both he and his son, H B Marriott Watson, used the fuller name in honour of the distinguished Marriott family, with whom a relationship was claimed; he did, however, write at least once as Henry Crocker. Erchomenon; or, The Republic of Materialism (1879), a Sleeper Awakes tale published anonymously, is a socialist, secular Utopia set 600 years after the narrator enters Suspended Animation; Christianity has gone underground, being replaced by "Temples of Humanity" that reflect the ideas of Auguste Comte (1798-1857), the skies are filled with flying machines, but children are separated from their parents at birth to be raised on "baby farms" where euthanasia is common: what initially seems benign turns out on investigation to be Dystopian. The Decline and Fall of the British Empire; or, The Witch's Cavern (1890; vt The Witch's Cavern: A Realistic and Thrilling Picture of London Society 1890 US as by "One Who Knows") as by H C M W, also ambivalently dystopian, reverses the pattern of the earlier tale: a narrator from the thirtieth century visits the nineteenth century by a means of witch-enabled Time Travel, and tells us what is to come unless something is done. A republican Australia has become dominant; the Gulf Stream having been diverted, Britain is frozen, and London is in ruins; an Invention-rich planet has relegated the English-speaking world to secondary status. But at the very end of the nineteenth century – that is, in the Near Future – a proletarian revolution causes decent Englishmen to emigrate; the narrator returns to his own time. [JC]

Henry Crocker Marriott Watson

born Prosser River, Tasmania: 9 November 1839

died New Zealand: 8 August 1901

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