Edward Bellamy Research
Looking Backward has been in print since its original publication in 1888. Subsequent editions often included introductions that offer insights into current reforms or the scholarly climate of their times. Here are some examples of Bellamy's works from my own collection. Click here for my bibliographic essay on Bellamy. In 2017, Oxford University Press asked me to prepare an updated bibliography for their American Literature database; additional information will be posted as soon as the entry is published.
Looking Backward, 2000-1887. 1888; Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1889. In late 1886, Bellamy began writing Looking Backward, the utopian novel for which he is best known. Married in 1882, he had become sensitive to the need for shaping a better world after the birth of his children in 1884 and 1886. Even his beloved Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts had begun to exhibit some of the urban problems that plagued larger cities. In the novel, Julian West, a nineteenth-century representative of the idle rich, awakens from a mesmerized sleep to find himself in the nationalized society of year 2000. Everyone belongs to the "industrialized army" and shares in such outcomes of the economic evolution as universal education, lifelong allowances, and community dining halls. Ticknor first published the novel in 1888; Mark Twain called the original edition as "scrofulous-looking and mangy a volume as I have set eyes on." In 1889 Houghton, Mifflin purchased the failing Ticknor and published this second edition, incorporating slight changes made by Bellamy for a German translation by Rabbi Schindler in 1888. Within two years nearly 214,000 copies of the novel had been sold.
Looking Backward, 2000-1887. Introduction by Irvin Edman. 1888; Hollywood: Limited Editions Club, 1941. Looking Backward's popularity fell in the early 1900s, rising again in the early 1920s and 1930s. Merle Armitage designed this edition, which was limited to 1,500 copies [this is copy #698]. Edman wrote in the introduction that one turns the pages with "nostalgia tinctured with pathos and irony" for as bad as 1887 seemed to Bellamy, it appeared a "singularly secure age" to the 1941 reader. Chapters are headed by artist Eloise's boldly-colored illustrations, many featuring futuristic devices suggestive of the chapters' contents.
Looking Backward, 2000-1887. Introduction by Paul Bellamy. 1888; New York: World Publishing Co., 1945. In the introduction, Bellamy's son Paul (who was 13 at the time of his father's death) writes that he wishes he could analyze the social changes of the last forty-seven years with his father and called on "this soul-searching era" to reconsider Bellamy's prophesies. Please note: World also published a limited edition of 950 copies in 1945 which included Paul Bellamy's introduction and illustrations by George Salter.
Equality. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1897. Disillusioned with the Populists' "free silver panacea" and in ill health and financial trouble, Bellamy ceased publishing his weekly New Nation in 1894 and began writing a sequel to Looking Backward. His political experience, contact with various reformers, others' efforts to expand Looking Backward, and criticisms leveled at the novel called for further explanation of his utopian society. Detailing the workings of the universal industrial service, no longer referred to as the industrial army, Bellamy offered dry descriptions of life in the new age, as well as lengthy history lessons on numerous nineteenth century shortcomings. With few references to the love story that sweetened Looking Backward, Equality failed to gain a popular audience and appealed mostly to committed Nationalists (Nationalism was Bellamy's name for his social system). After completing Equality, Bellamy moved to Denver in a futile attempt to restore his health. Homesick for Chicopee Falls, he returned to Massachusetts and died from tuberculosis a month later, on May 22, 1898, at the age of 48.