Inez Haynes Irwin
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: HiLo Heroes, Radium Age SF

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 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) | J.D. Beresford | Algernon Blackwood | Edgar Rice Burroughs | Karel Čapek | Buster Crabbe | August Derleth | Arthur Conan Doyle | 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



Joshua Glenn is an author, publisher, and semiotic analyst. He is co-author (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) of THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY, co-editor of the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY and (with Rob Walker) SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS, and co-author (with Elizabeth Foy Larsen) of the family activities guide UNBORED and three forthcoming spinoffs, including UNBORED Games. He is editor of HILOBROW and publisher of the Radium Age science fiction imprint HiLoBooks. Also: Glenn manages a secretive online community known as the Hermenautic Circle; he is founding editor of the e-book club Save the Adventure; and he's a frequent co-host of Boing Boing's podcast GWEEK. In the ’00s, Glenn was an editor, columnist, and blogger for the Boston Globe's IDEAS section, he co-founded the international semiotics website SEMIONAUT, and contributed to CABINET, SLATE, and elsewhere. In the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT, worked as a dotcom and magazine editor, and contributed to THE BAFFLER, FEED, and elsewhere. His publishing company is King Mixer, LLC; and his semiotic analysis consultancy is Semiovox LLC. He lives in Boston with his wife and children.