Suzette Haden Elgin

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Suzette Haden Elgin
Patricia Anne Suzette Wilkins

(1936-11-18)November 18, 1936
DiedJanuary 27, 2015(2015-01-27) (aged 78)
EducationUniversity of California, San Diego (PhD)
Occupation(s)Science fiction author, linguist
Spouse(s)Peter Haden (married 1955; he predeceased her)
George Elgin (married 1964; he survives her)

Suzette Haden Elgin (born Patricia Anne Suzette Wilkins; November 18, 1936 – January 27, 2015) was an American researcher in experimental linguistics, construction and evolution of languages and poetry and science fiction writer. She founded the Science Fiction Poetry Association and is considered an important figure in the field of science fiction constructed languages. Her best-known non-fiction includes her Verbal Self-Defense series.[1]


Patricia Anne Suzette Wilkins was born in 1936 in Jefferson City, Missouri.[1]

She attended the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in the 1960s, and began writing science fiction in order to pay tuition. She gained a PhD in linguistics, and was the first UCSD student ever to write two dissertations (on English and Navajo).

She created the engineered language Láadan for her Native Tongue science fiction series.[2] A grammar and dictionary was published in 1985. She supported feminist science fiction, saying "women need to realize that SF is the only genre of literature in which it's possible for a writer to explore the question of what this world would be like if you could get rid of [Y], where [Y] is filled in with any of the multitude of real world facts that constrain and oppress women. Women need to treasure and support science fiction."[3]

In addition, she published works of shorter fiction. Overlying themes in her work include feminism, linguistics and the impact of proper language, and peaceful coexistence with nature. Many of her works also draw from her Ozark background and heritage.[4][5]

Later years and death[edit]

Elgin became a professor at San Diego State University (SDSU). She retired in 1980 and lived in Arkansas with her second husband, George Elgin. She died at age 78 in 2015 from undisclosed causes. She was survived by her husband. Her son Michael pre-deceased her.[6][7][8]



Coyote Jones series[edit]

  • The Communipaths (1970)
  • Furthest (1971)
  • At the Seventh Level (1972) (cover and interior illustrations by George Barr)
  • Star-Anchored, Star-Angered (1979); ISBN 0-385-13564-5
  • Yonder Comes the Other End of Time (1986); ISBN 0-88677-110-2 (also in The Ozark series [9])

The Ozark Trilogy (1981)[edit]

Native Tongue series[edit]


Short stories[edit]


Songs (partial list)[edit]

  • "Dead Skunk Song"
  • "Song at the Ready"
  • "When I Was a Young Girl" (lyrics only, to the tune of "The Ash Grove")
  • "Where the Emerald Kudzu Twines"
  • "The World They Call Terra"
  • "Down in Holes" (lyrics only, to the tune of "Frère Jacques")
  • "The Firelizard Song"
  • "The Seas of Space"


The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense[edit]



  1. ^ a b Clute, John (2012). "Suzette Haden Elgin". Science Fiction Encyclopedia. Gollancz. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
  2. ^ Chozick, Amy (December 11, 2011). "Athhilezar? Watch Your Fantasy World Language". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Wells, Kim (1999). "An Interview with Suzette Haden Elgin". Women Archived from the original on March 2, 2017. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
  4. ^ Elgin blog,; accessed April 26, 2015.
  5. ^ Elgin biography,; accessed April 26, 2015.
  6. ^ notice of death opg Suzette Haden Elgin, SFSite News; accessed April 26, 2015.
  7. ^ Locus Online obituary,; accessed April 26, 2015.
  8. ^ [1], 7th draft of her poem about Michael's death.
  9. ^ "Book Review: Yonder Comes the Other End of Time, by Suzette Haden Elgin". May 21, 2013.
  10. ^ "Book Review: Yonder Comes the Other End of Time, by Suzette Haden Elgin". May 21, 2013.
  • Mohr, Dunja M. Worlds Apart: Dualism and Transgression in Contemporary Female Dystopias. Jefferson, NC, McFarland, 2005. [extensive chapter on Native Tongue series]

External links[edit]