You know their classic literature, but Charlotte, Anne and Emily Brontë wrote about the imaginary kingdoms of Gondol and Angria when they were just kids.
The British Library recently revealed rare and amazing hand-written transcripts from the authors that were created in their early years as children together which revealed an elaborate fantasy world called The Glass Town Federation. Branwell, their brother, and Charlotte were in charge of the imaginary kingdom of Angria, while Emily and Anne were the writers of the world of Gondal. They all were 'gods' of their kingdoms, and wrote obsessivley about them and created detailed maps. Because the worlds were set in (their) modern times and basically suggested an alternate dimension, scholars are considering the stories science fiction.
Andy Sawyer, Director of Science Fiction Studies at the University of Liverpool, says of the writings,
The Brontës are well known authors with no apparent association with science fiction but their tiny manuscript books, held at the British Library, are one of the first examples of fan fiction, using favourite characters and settings in the same way as science fiction and fantasy fans now play in the detailed imaginary ‘universes’ of Star Trek or Harry Potter. While the sense of fantasy is strong, there are teasing examples of what might be called the beginnings of science fiction.
I hope the exhibition at the British Library will challenge what people think of as science fiction and show that it is not a narrow genre, but something that appears in many times, cultures, and literary forms. It embraces works of utopian and speculative fiction that many people may not consider as 'Science Fiction', such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, George Orwell’s 1984 and Audrey Niffeneger’s The Time-Traveler’s Wife.
This is fucking awesome. What's so amazing about early science fiction stories, from two centuries ago, is that they connect us to the story creators on so many different intellectual levels; humans have always been speculating about the scientific and imaginary possibilities for their futures and considering the consequences of different outcomes in the past. The Brontës wrote much romantic and gothic fiction, like Wuthing Heights, for instance, but clearly their passions for the speculative were more mature than the current publishing tastes of the early days of the 19th century. Who knows what other stories might have been written by Plato, da Vinci, or Voltaire had Science Fiction been defined as an acceptable literary genre far earlier than it has been.