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Unveiling a Parallel,

A Romance

by Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant


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Unveiling a Parallel was a collaboration between two 19th century US women writers who lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Like Charlotte Gilman's Herland, it has a fairly standard framing story. This title, however, has a bit more balance between exposition and narrative than most. It also has some strong women characters, unlike the male-penned utopias where women are, more than often, just set-dressing.

The unnamed narrator, a man, arrives at Mars after a flight by 'aeroplane.' (Note that this was written a decade before the Wright Brothers.) Mars is much like Earth, and inhabited by Earth-like flora and fauna. Where it differs is in the social roles of the genders. Women occupy a place of equality; they have their own social clubs, take lovers, have children out of wedlock, and can even propose marriage to men. Of course, this subjects the narrator to much amusing discomfort. In the second part of the narrative, set in another country on Mars, the protagonist gets to meet a Christ-like 'Teacher,' and compare religion on both planets. This portion seems a bit tacked-on, as if the authors felt a need to soften the impact of the satire in the previous part of the book.

Unveiling a Parallel appears on the Internet for the first time at There were numerous feminist utopias written during this period, all unknown today except to specialists. Hopefully more of these can be digitized.

Title Page
Chapter 1. A Remarkable Acquaintance
Chapter 2. A Woman
Chapter 3. The Auroras’ Annual
Chapter 4. Elodia
Chapter 5. The Vaporizer
Chapter 6. Cupid's Gardens
Chapter 7. New Friends
Chapter 8. A Talk With Elodia
Chapter 9. Journeying Upward
Chapter 10. The Master
Chapter 11. A Comparison