The Empire of the Nairs; or, The Rights of Women. An Eutopian Romance, in Twelve Books

TitleThe Empire of the Nairs; or, The Rights of Women. An Eutopian Romance, in Twelve Books
Year for Search1811
AuthorsLawrence, James [Henry](1773-1840)
Volume / Edition4 vols. in 2.
Date Published1811
PublisherPtd. for T. Hookham and E.T. Hookham
Place PublishedLondon
KeywordsEnglish author, Male author
Annotation

Largely adventure and romance but presented as a picture of a eutopia of equality for women. Men are completely free from all duties except warfare. Women are revered as mothers and supported as such by the state. No marriage and women choose their lovers as they wish. Every house belongs to some woman and men live with relatives or lovers. Lawrence drew inspiration from and refers to Mary Wollstonecraft’s (1759-97) Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1782). The description of sexual freedom influenced Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822); see 1817 and 1821 Shelley, both of which were so influenced. Shelley wrote Lawrence on August 17, 1812, saying “Your ‘Empire of the Nairs,’ which I read this Spring, succeeded in making me a perfect convert to its doctrines” (The Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Ed. Frederick L. Jones. 2 vols. (Oxford, Eng.: Clarendon Press, 1964), 1: 323. See Walter Graham, “Shelley and The Empire of the Nairs.” PMLA 40.4 (December 1925): 881-91. The Nairs are based on an actual Hindu caste from Kerela in India. On the actual Nairs, see Élie Reclus, “The Naïrs, Warrior Nobility and the Matriarchate.” In his Primitive Folk: Studies in Comparative Ethnology (London: Walter Scott, [1891?]), 143-77. Originally published in French but no translator given.

Additional Publishers

Rpt. as The Empire of the Nairs (1811). 4 vols. in 1. Delmar, NY: Scholars’ Facsimiles & Reprints, 1976; and in Modern British Utopias 1700-1850. Ed. Gregory Claeys. 8 vols. (London: Pickering & Chatto, 1997), 5: 1-328.

Info Notes

This is something of a bibliographic muddle. The author was English, but the first fragment of the novel was published anonymously in German translation as “Ueber die Bortheile des Systemes de Galanterie und Erbfolge ben den Nanren.” Der Neue Teutsche Merkur 2.2 (1793): 160-99; rpt. as Galanterie und Erbfolge. Ed. Peter Ala and Berta Rahm. Zurich, Switzerland: Ala-Verlag, 1971. This was published in English as An Essay On the Nair System of Gallantry and Inheritance; Shewing Its Superiority Over Marriage; As Insuring An Indubitable Genuinness ov Birth, and Bring More Favorable Tu Population, The Rights Ov Women, And the Active Disposition Ov Men. London: Ptd. for J. Ridgeway and H. D. Symonds, [1800]. An early version of the novel was published, supposedly at Friedrich von Schiller’s (1759-1805) recommendation, in Journal der Romane (1801) as “Das Paradies der Liebe.” This was rpt. as Das Reich der Nairen, oder das Paradies der Liebe [Not found] and was trans. by Lawrence as L’Empire des Nairs, or le Paradies de l’amour. 4 vols. Paris: Maradan, 1814. A later version of the 1811 ed. with four mildly pornographic engravings has a dramatically different title–The Empire of the Nairs; or, the Panorama of Love, Enlivened with the Intrigues Of Several Crowned Heads; And with Anecdotes of Courts, Brothels, Convents, and Seraglios; The Whole Forming A Picture of Gallantry, Seduction, Prostitution, Marriage, And Divorce In All Parts of the World. 4 vols. London: J. Sudbury, 1824. A twentieth century German ed. was published as Das Paradies der Liebe. New ed. 2 vols. Ed. Heinrich Conrad. München, Germany: G. Muller, 1923. Other eds. have been reported but not traced.

Holding Institutions

CU-Riv, HRC, L, PSt

Author Note

(1773-1840)

Full Text

1811 Lawrence, James [Henry] (1773-1840). The Empire of the Nairs; or, The Rights of Women. An Eutopian Romance, in Twelve Books. 4 vols. in 2. London: Ptd. for T. Hookham and E. T. Hookham. Rpt. as The Empire of the Nairs (1811). 4 vols. in 1. Delmar, NY: Scholars’ Facsimiles & Reprints, 1976; and in Modern British Utopias 1700-1850. Ed. Gregory Claeys. 8 vols. (London: Pickering & Chatto, 1997), 5: 1-328. This is something of a bibliographic muddle. The author was English, but the first fragment of the novel was published anonymously in German translation as “Ueber die Bortheile des Systemes de Galanterie und Erbfolge ben den Nanren.” Der Neue Teutsche Merkur 2.2 (1793): 160-99; rpt. as Galanterie und Erbfolge. Ed. Peter Ala and Berta Rahm. Zurich, Switzerland: Ala-Verlag, 1971. This was published in English as An Essay On the Nair System of Gallantry and Inheritance; Shewing Its Superiority Over Marriage; As Insuring An Indubitable Genuinness ov Birth, and Bring More Favorable Tu Population, The Rights Ov Women, And the Active Disposition Ov Men. London: Ptd. for J. Ridgeway and H. D. Symonds, [1800]. An early version of the novel was published, supposedly at Friedrich von Schiller’s (1759-1805) recommendation, in Journal der Romane (1801) as “Das Paradies der Liebe.” This was rpt. as Das Reich der Nairen, oder das Paradies der Liebe [Not found] and was trans. by Lawrence as L’Empire des Nairs, or le Paradies de l’amour. 4 vols. Paris: Maradan, 1814. A later version of the 1811 ed. with four mildly pornographic engravings has a dramatically different title–The Empire of the Nairs; or, the Panorama of Love, Enlivened with the Intrigues Of Several Crowned Heads; And with Anecdotes of Courts, Brothels, Convents, and Seraglios; The Whole Forming A Picture of Gallantry, Seduction, Prostitution, Marriage, And Divorce In All Parts of the World. 4 vols. London: J. Sudbury, 1824. A twentieth century German ed. was published as Das Paradies der Liebe. New ed. 2 vols. Ed. Heinrich Conrad. München, Germany: G. Muller, 1923. Other eds. have been reported but not traced. CU-Riv, HRC, L, PSt

Largely adventure and romance but presented as a picture of a eutopia of equality for women. Men are completely free from all duties except warfare. Women are revered as mothers and supported as such by the state. No marriage and women choose their lovers as they wish. Every house belongs to some woman and men live with relatives or lovers. Lawrence drew inspiration from and refers to Mary Wollstonecraft’s (1759-97) Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1782). The description of sexual freedom influenced Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822); see 1817 and 1821 Shelley, both of which were so influenced. Shelley wrote Lawrence on August 17, 1812, saying “Your ‘Empire of the Nairs,’ which I read this Spring, succeeded in making me a perfect convert to its doctrines” (The Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Ed. Frederick L. Jones. 2 vols. (Oxford, Eng.: Clarendon Press, 1964), 1: 323. See Walter Graham, “Shelley and The Empire of the Nairs.” PMLA 40.4 (December 1925): 881-91. The Nairs are based on an actual Hindu caste from Kerela in India. On the actual Nairs, see Élie Reclus, “The Naïrs, Warrior Nobility and the Matriarchate.” In his Primitive Folk: Studies in Comparative Ethnology (London: Walter Scott, [1891?]), 143-77. Originally published in French but no translator given.