Edward Bellamy (BEHL-ah-mee), the son of a New England Baptist minister, was born in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, on March 26, 1850. He was largely self-educated. Although he attended Union College for only a year as a special student, Bellamy read widely in history, politics, economics, and literature. He also studied law and passed the bar exam, but he closed his law office after only one case and focused on journalism. He wrote editorials for the Springfield Union, helped establish the Daily News, and wrote book reviews for the New York Evening Post. He married Emma Sanderson in 1882; they had two children.
While working as a newspaperman in Springfield, Bellamy began to write novels. His first work, Six to One, was light and romantic, but his second novel, Dr. Heidenhoff’s Process, a work dealing with sin and a sense of guilt, was impressive enough to have William Dean Howells hail Bellamy as the literary successor to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Bellamy did not find a wide public or general acclaim, however, until the publication of Looking Backward in January, 1888.
Begun simply as a literary fantasy, Looking Backward presents a picture of a humane, scientific, and socialistic utopia in the year 2000. The book sold fewer than ten thousand copies its first year, but then it became enormously popular. People such as Cyrus Field Willard, a Boston newspaperman, formed clubs to...
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