Inez Haynes Irwin

By: Joshua Glenn
March 2, 2012

I became acutely conscious of the Argonaut Folly meme — in which a motley crew of outsiders live and work together in precarious harmony — when I was in my 30s, as I’ve recounted elsewhere. But I was first exposed to the meme as an impressionable kid, when my feminist mother encouraged me to read her favorite children’s books: Maida’s Little Shop (1910), Maida’s Little House (1921), and others in which a listless, motherless rich girl finds new purpose amidst misfit peers from a rough Boston neighborhood. In each installment in the series by INEZ HAYNES IRWIN (1873-1970), Maida and co. experiment with a new, utopian commune-like environment — financed by her progressive-minded tycoon father — for living and learning. Therefore, though examples of sentimental realism, the Maida Books are not unrelated to, say, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s feminist science fiction Herland (1915). You don’t buy it? In 1914, Irwin — a Bostonian who’d been active in the suffragist movement, and who in the 1910s became fiction editor of The Masses — published Angel Island, a feminist, dystopian Lost Race novel about a group of men stranded on an island of winged women. The kicker of this anecdote is the cover below.


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Dr. Seuss and Scott La Rock.

READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Anarcho-Symbolist (1864-73) and the Psychonaut (1874-83) generations.

MORE RADIUM AGE SCI FI ON HILOBROW: HiLoBooks homepage! | What is Radium Age science fiction? |Radium Age 100: 100 Best Science Fiction Novels from 1904–33 | Radium Age Supermen | Radium Age Robots | Radium Age Apocalypses | Radium Age Telepaths | Radium Age Eco-Catastrophes | Radium Age Cover Art (1) | SF’s Best Year Ever: 1912 | Radium Age Science Fiction Poetry | Enter Highbrowism | Bathybius! Primordial ooze in Radium Age sf | War and Peace Games (H.G. Wells’s training manuals for supermen) | Radium Age: Context series | J.D. Beresford | Algernon Blackwood | Edgar Rice Burroughs | Karel Čapek | Buster Crabbe | August Derleth | Arthur Conan Doyle | Hugo Gernsback | Charlotte Perkins Gilman | Cicely Hamilton | Hermann Hesse | William Hope Hodgson | Aldous Huxley | Inez Haynes Irwin | Alfred Jarry | Jack Kirby (Radium Age sf’s influence on) | Murray Leinster | Gustave Le Rouge | Gaston Leroux | David Lindsay | Jack London | H.P. Lovecraft | A. Merritt | Maureen O’Sullivan | Sax Rohmer | Paul Scheerbart | Upton Sinclair | Clark Ashton Smith | E.E. “Doc” Smith | Olaf Stapledon | John Taine | H.G. Wells | Jack Williamson | Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz | S. Fowler Wright | Philip Gordon Wylie | Yevgeny Zamyatin