The Science Fiction of Torquay’s Edward Douglas Fawcett

(Last Updated On: October 30, 2018)


Here at WASD we like to remember Torquay folk who have made their mark on the world.

This time it’s the science fiction pioneer and St Marychurch resident Edward Douglas Fawcett (1866-1960). Along with his writing Edward was also was also an innovator in colour photography, motoring, mountaineering, aeronautics and philosophy.


It was his brother, the Torquay explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett, who in 1925 led an expedition into the Amazonian rainforest in search of a fabled city… and was never seen again.


Edward wrote science fiction novels that were strikingly predictive. In 1893 he published ‘Hartmann the Anarchist’ which related the story of a terrorist who bombs London in a series of air raids. The idea that air power could devastate cities was a decade before the Wright brothers first flew, and the storyline predated HG Well’s ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ by 40 years.

Incidentally, the illustrator of ‘Hartmann the Anarchist’, Fred Jane, became the founder of Jane’s Fighting Ships.


Another of Edward’s books ‘The Secret of the Desert’, or ‘How We Crossed Arabia in the Antelope’, was possibly the first fictional account of an armoured fighting vehicle – two decades before the first tank appeared.


Kevin Dixon went to Audley Park – now Torquay Academy – and South Devon College when it was at Torre. After studying at Birmingham City University, he returned home because there’s nowhere else quite like Torquay. He then became involved in community and adult education, completed a PhD at Exeter University , and started writing about the weird and unknown side of town. He now Chairs Healthwatch Torbay and is involved in health and social care in the Bay.