Earliest utopian novel by an American woman: 300 Years Hence, 1836

John Mark Ockerbloom sez, "My wife Mary's just posted a newly illustrated edition of Mary Griffith's 1836 vision of the future, _Three Hundred Years Hence_.

It's the earliest known utopian novel by an American woman, and it's rather different from many of the later male-imagined futures that are better-known today. And to my mind, it's more interesting than most of those. For one thing, unlike many books in this genre, it doesn't simply ride one particular hobby-horse of an author, but projects a wide variety of trends, technological, political, economic, and social.

For this free online edition, Mary's added a number of Creative Commons-licensed images, and links to Wikipedia articles, to help readers find out more about people and places the author refers to, as they were then, and (when applicable) as they are now."

"One thing surprises me," said Hastings. "You wear the quaker dress; indeed, it is of that fashion which the gravest of the sect of my time wore; but you do not use the mode of speech - is that abolished among you?"

The young man, whom we shall in future call Edgar, laughed out. "Quaker!" said he; "why, my dear sir, the quakers have been extinct for upwards of two centuries. My dress is the fashion of the present moment; all the young men of my age and standing dress in this style now. Does it appear odd to you?"

"No," said Hastings, "because this precise dress was worn by the people called Friends or Quakers, in my day - strange that I should have to use this curious mode of speech - my day! yes, like the wandering Jew, I seem to exist to the end of time. I see one alteration or difference, however; you wear heavy gold buckles in your shoes, the quakers wore strings; you have long ruffles on your hands, they had none; you wear a cocked hat, and they wore one with a large round rim."

Three hundred years hence

(Thanks, John Mark!)