Simpson, Helen

Tagged: Author

(1897-1940) Australian playwright and author, mostly in the UK from April 1914; she was employed as a message decoder in World War One. In 1919 she founded the Oxford Women's Dramatic Society, but was sent down by the university for appearing on stage with a man. The Baseless Fabric (coll 1925) assembles supernatural and weird fiction; Mumbudget (coll 1928) assembles fairy tales. John Dee's recounting of transactions between levels of reality shapes the seventeenth-century Puritan protagonist's Perceptions in Maid No More (1940), during the course of which she finds herself becoming something of a She figure. After the slaver ship she has taken passage on from Britain has floundered, depositing her on a remote Island which her Cavalier swain dubs Maid-No-More, the two attempt to establish a crypto-Utopian regime, with the black men and women who have also survived being returned to something akin to Slavery through their belief that she is a Taboo-girded figure; but this all proves fatally fragile (see also Race in SF), and with her Puritanism continuing to befoul her sex awakening (see Sex), a toxic thanatopic Transcendence closes the scene.

Of specific sf interest is The Woman on the Beast: Viewed from Three Angles (coll of linked stories/fixup 1933), the last and longest of these stories, "Australia, 1999", being a Near Future tale set just before the Millennium, when a woman anarchist based on Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944) (see Eschatology; Religion; Women in SF) becomes ruler of the world; her apocalyptic plans include the purificatory abolition of all reading, and cause the End of the World. [JC]

Helen de Guerry Simpson

born Sydney, New South Wales: 1 December 1897

died Overbury, Worcestershire: 14 October 1940

works (selected)

collections and stories

  • The Baseless Fabric (London: William Heinemann, 1925) [coll: hb/uncredited]
  • Mumbudget (London: William Heinemann, 1928) [coll: illus/hb/Molly McArthur]


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