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Elizabeth G. Birkmaier

Poseidon’s Paradise. The Romance of Atlantis

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Maybe this book is somewhat out of place in the august halls of the Dunyazad Library, even if it is a fantasy adventure tale in an exciting setting. It has left no footprints in the sands of the history of literature. Even if it hadn’t had the misfortune of having been born on the wrong side of the planet – it would have been more at home in Britain, than in California – its amateurishness, even if endearing, would still have called for the intervention of an experienced editor. By any standards, this is not a masterpiece, and had neither then, nor has it now, what most readers expect from a book of its genre. Why, then, is it here? Because, for being a brave effort at something I might have loved, and despite all that it is not, I like it. Hopefully, you will, too.

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About the Author

Very little is known about Elizabeth G. Birkmaier, other than that, at least for some time, she lived in California. A very favorable review of Poseidon’s Paradise in a San Franciscan newspaper (The Morning Call, October 30, 1892) called her a “Californian lady well known in educational circles and in Alameda, where she has a charming home,” and a copy of the book was given by her to the “San Franciscan Women’s Literary Exhibit of Californian Writers” at the Chicago World’s Fair (the “World’s Columbian Exposition”) of 1893. This copy has a handwritten dedication, “Presented to the Literary Exhibit by Elizabeth G. Birkmaier,” and also has her photograph pasted in.

A decade later, on February 1, 1904, this short note appeared in the San Francisco Call (the former Morning Call):

The Forum Club has within its ranks a member who has lately distinguished herself by putting forth a book of much excellence, Mrs. Elizabeth G. Birkmaier, whose “Poseidon’s Paradise” is now being read with great interest. Mrs. Birkmaier last week gave the club a very clever talk upon “Druids.”

Poseidon’s Paradise seems not to have sold well, though, nor has it received much literary notice, and no other literary work by its author is known.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction gives this sparse biographical information about Elizabeth G Birkmaier:

born Baltimore, Maryland: March 1847

died December 1912.

And in the Baltimore Cemetery there can be found a gravestone that bears the following inscription:

ELIZABETH G. D.

WIFE OF

GEO. L. BIRKMAIER

AND DAUGHTER OF

HUGH G. & MARIA W DAVEY

MARCH 31 1845

DEC. 30 1912

Born 1845, not 1847. Is it certain that this Elizabeth G. Birkmaier from Baltimore is the same person as the one who lived in California and wrote Poseidon’s Paradise? I do not know if there are known facts that establish the connection. Proper research, which is beyond my means, could certainly reveal more about the author, and we can only hope that some day it will be undertaken.

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