Edward Bellamy

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Edward Bellamy (26 March 1850  – 22 May 1898) was an American author and socialist, most famous for his utopian novel, Looking Backward, set in the year 2000.



Early life

Edward Bellamy was born in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. His father was Rufus King Bellamy (1816–1886), a Baptist minister and a descendant of Joseph Bellamy. His mother was Maria Louisa (Putnam) Bellamy, a Calvinist. Her father, Benjamin Putnam, had also been a Baptist minister, but had to withdraw from the ministry in Salem, Massachusetts, following objections to him becoming a Freemason.[1]

Edward had two older brothers, Frederick and Charles. He attended Union College, but did not graduate. While there, he joined the Theta Chi Chapter of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He studied law, but left the practice and worked briefly in the newspaper industry in New York and in Springfield, Massachusetts. He left journalism and devoted himself to literature, writing both short stories and novels. He married Emma Augusta Sanderson in 1882. The couple had two children, Paul (b. 1884) and Marion (b. 1886).

He was the cousin of Francis Bellamy, most famous for creating the Pledge of Allegiance.

As a writer

According to Erich Fromm, Bellamy's novel Looking Backward is "one of the most remarkable books ever published in America." [2] It was the third largest bestseller of its time, after Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.[2] In the book, Julian West, an upper class man from 1887, awakes in 2000 from a hypnotic trance to find himself in a socialist utopia. The book influenced a large number of intellectuals, and appears by title in many of the major Marxist writings of the day. "It is one of the few books ever published that created almost immediately on its appearance a political mass movement." [3] "Bellamy Clubs" sprang up all over the United States for discussing and propagating the book's ideas. This political movement came to be known as Nationalism.[4] His novel also inspired several utopian communities. Although Looking Backward is unique, Bellamy owes many aspects of his philosophy to a previous reformer and author, Laurence Gronlund, who published his treatise "The Cooperative Commonwealth: An Exposition of Modern Socialism" in 1884.[5]

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