Edwin Lester Arnold

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Edwin Lester Linden Arnold (1857 – 1 March 1935) was an English author. Most of his works were issued under his working name of Edwin Lester Arnold.

Arnold was born in Swanscombe, Kent, as son of Sir Edwin Arnold. Most of his childhood was spent in India, but he returned to England to study agriculture and ornithology. He became a journalist in 1883, and published his first books A Summer Holiday In Scandinavia (1877) and Bird Life In England (1887) before writing his first novel The Wonderful Adventures of Phra the Phoenician, the adventures of a warrior who goes in and out of an unexplained state of suspended animation in order to be a witness to invasions or attempted invasions of England. Phra was first published in 24 parts in the prestigious Illustrated London News, and later published in book form in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Arnold later wrote other novels, including Rutherford the Twice-Born (1892) and Lepidus the Centurion: A Roman of Today (1901), both of which flopped commercially. In 1905 Arnold published his best known novel, Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, also known as Gulliver of Mars, (1905). Its initial reception was lukewarm, leading Arnold to stop writing fiction altogether.

Legacy[edit]

Arnold's Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation is considered important to 20th century science fiction literature, in that it may have inspired the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom series, which was written six years later. Indeed, both Gullivar and Burroughs's character John Carter, first seen in A Princess of Mars (1917), are Southern United States soldiers who arrive on Mars and have numerous adventures, including falling in love with a Martian princess. The character of Carter, however, has more in common with Arnold's earlier creation, Phra. Critics would say that Arnold's Martian adventure was not as well written, and the fact that Gullivar doesn't quite defeat his enemies or get the girl in the end helps explain why his novel not as popular as Burroughs', which was followed by ten sequels.

Ace Books reprinted Arnold's Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation in 1964, retitling it Gulliver of Mars [sic]. A more recent Bison Books edition was issued as Gullivar of Mars, adapting the Ace title to Arnold's spelling.

Marvel Comics did a brief comic version of Gullivar of Mars during the early 1970s, possibly as a reaction to DC gaining the rights to publish Burroughs' John Carter during this time. With art by Gil Kane, it ran in several issues of Creatures on the Loose. Marvel's Gullivar was a Viet Nam vet, and the series started in modern times. Though the series used many of Arnold's characters and concepts, the series was not a strict adaptation of the original book.

Both Gullivar and John Carter make an appearance at the beginning of volume two in Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic book series.

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