Born of Man and Woman
|"Born of Man and Woman"|
|Genre(s)||Science fiction short story|
|Published in||The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction|
|Media type||Print (Magazine)|
"Born of Man and Woman" is a science fiction short story by American writer Richard Matheson, originally published in 1950 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It was his first professional sale, written when he was twenty-two years old. It became the title piece in Matheson's first short story collection in 1954.
The story is written in the form of a "diary" in broken English kept by an indeterminate creature that is kept chained in the basement by its violently abusive caregivers. Some may interpret the homodiegetic narrator of the text as a misshapen child, approximately eight years old, while others may see the narrator as an other-worldly monster that drips "ugly green on the floor." Regardless of whether it is a human or an unnamed, unearthly entity, the narrator of the text is able to pull its chain out of the wall and observe the outside world through the basement window. On one occasion it sneaks upstairs, although it has difficulty because its body drips green fluid that causes its feet to stick to the stairs. It eavesdrops on a dinner party but is discovered by its caregivers, returned to the basement, and violently beaten. On another occasion it climbs to a small window and observes the younger version of its "mother" (who seems unaware of the creature's existence) playing with other girls and boys. One of the boys spots the child, and it is again beaten. In a final incident, a young girl, described as a "little mother," brings another unidentified creature with "pointy ears" into the basement. The creature hides from them in a coal bin, but upon being discovered by the pointy-eared animal, the narrator crushes the animal to death. The story ends with the narrator hitting a stick out of its caregiver's hands and promising violence against them if they beat it further. It thinks about running along walls, and it is revealed it has more than one pair of legs.
Born of Man and Woman was among the stories selected in 1970 by the Science Fiction Writers of America as one of the best science fiction short stories published before the creation of the Nebula Awards. As such, it was published in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One, 1929-1964.
- "Galaxy's 5 Star Shelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1954, p.95