Gerald Grogan

Gerald Forman Grogan (1884-1918) was born in Tibbermore in Perthshire. He wrote one science fiction novel, which was published in 1915: A Drop in Infinity (London: John Lane). A mad scientist invents a matter transmission device which drops various unwilling people on a parallel world. They are unable to get back, and so settle down on this planet, and raise children; the story is told by a descendant.

In William Pollok, and Other Tales there is an anonymous Memoir which gives some details of Grogan’s life. His father served in the first battalion of the Royal Highlanders, the Black Watch, for thirty-four years, and until Gerald was eleven he travelled round the world with him. If Gerald’s father was Brigadier-General E. G. Grogan, who commanded the 1st Battalion Black Watch in the Boer War, then Gerald’s elder brother was  Lieutenant-Colonel George William St George Grogan, VC, CB, CMG, DSO, a career soldier who received his first commission in 1895, was decorated with the VC for his valour in the Battle of the Aisne on 28 May 1918, and who died at Sunningdale in 1962.

At 11 Gerald was sent to Cheltenham College; all assumed he was destined for the army. However, in his mid-teens he developed short sight, which progressed rapidly and put paid to a future military career. At the age of around 17 he went to Edinburgh University, and studied the sciences, intending to be a doctor; but when he progressed to Pathology his interest cease. He went to Camborne College to study Mining Engineering, having been given credit for his Edinburgh courses. He got a job in Arizona, and then in Mexico, and many of the stories in William Pollok drew on that experience. When the Mexican Revolution began in 1910 conditions became difficult for his work and he decided to devote himself to writing; he returned to England.

He had poems published, and got a job on the Throne and the Pall Mall Magazine, and began writing his novel, which was published in January 1915. One of his stories, written in 1912, is called “The Weregeld”, and might be regarded as “science fiction”: it is set in a future in which Britain has gone to war. There are no details of the war: but war has broken out in the streets of England, and it is probably that Germans had invaded. “It couldn’t be! It was a dream! This was England in the twentieth century—” (William Pollok, 275). Like most of the future war stories (see Voices Prophesying War), one of its points was to warn that it was “a campaign which need never have come to pass had not the weakness of his country’s fighting force offered a standing invitation to those responsible” (277).

As soon as the war started, he joined the HAC, the Honourable Artillery Company.

A collection of his short stories, William Pollok, and Other Tales, was published posthumously by John Lane, in 1919; and in 1925 the Whitefriars Press (London and Tonbridge) published a collection of his poems, Poems, illustrated by H. Dorothy Forman. Most of the poems were written between 1909 and 1913. There is only one war poem: see his War Experiences.

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