Brave New Worlds before Huxley and Orwell

An Interesting history of dystopian literature!

Great Writers Inspire

In this guest blog, Dr Oliver Tearle, a lecturer at the University of Loughborough and founder of the Interesting Literature blog (also on Twitter @InterestingLit), examines the history of dystopian literature. 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the noun ‘dystopia’ (defined as ‘an imaginary place or condition in which everything is as bad as possible’) first turns up in print in 1952, and ‘dystopian’ (in the word’s most common sense, namely ‘of or pertaining to a dystopia’) not until a decade later. But the first citation for the word ‘dystopian’ in the sense of ‘one who advocates or describes a dystopia’ comes from a speech made in the House of Commons by the Victorian philosopher, John Stuart Mill in 1868. ‘Dystopian’, then, was a Victorian coinage. But recently the noun ‘dystopia’ has been traced back to 1747 where it is spelled ‘dustopia’ but is used in clear contrast…

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