In 1922, a Novelist Predicts What the World Will Look Like in 2022: Wireless Telephones, 8‑Hour Flights to Europe & More

A cen­tu­ry ago, the pop­u­lar Eng­lish nov­el­ist W.L. George sat down and put his mind to envi­sion­ing the world we live in today. That world has not, alas, turned out to be one in which his books are much read, but in his day a great many read­ers were moved by his social cause-dri­ven fic­tion and reportage. One might com­pare him to Upton Sin­clair, his con­tem­po­rary on the oth­er side of the Atlantic. In the Paris-born-and-raised George’s ances­tral home­land, George Orwell described him as an author of what G.K. Chester­ton called “good bad books,” sin­gling out for praise his 1920 nov­el Cal­iban amid the “shod­dy rub­bish” of his wider oeu­vre.

Still even authors of rub­bish — and per­haps espe­cial­ly authors of rub­bish — can sense the shape of things to come. For its edi­tion of May 7, 1922, the New York Her­ald com­mis­sioned George to share that sense with their read­ers. In response he described a world in which “com­mer­cial fly­ing will have become entire­ly com­mon­place,” reduc­ing the sep­a­ra­tion of Amer­i­ca and Europe to eight hours, and whose pas­sen­ger steam­ers and rail­roads will have con­se­quent­ly fall­en into obso­les­cence. “Wire­less teleg­ra­phy and wire­less tele­phones will have crushed the cable sys­tem,” result­ing in gen­er­a­tions who’ll nev­er have seen “a wire out­lined against the sky.”

That goes for the trans­mis­sion of elec­tric­i­ty as well, since George cred­its (a bit hasti­ly, it seems) the pos­si­bil­i­ty of wire­less pow­er sys­tems of the kind researched by Niko­la Tes­la. In 2022, coal will take a dis­tant back­seat to the tides, the sun, and radi­um, and “it may also be that atom­ic ener­gy will be har­nessed.” As for the cin­e­ma, “the fig­ures on the screen will not only move, but they will have their nat­ur­al col­ors and speak with ordi­nary voic­es. Thus, the stage as we know it to-day may entire­ly dis­ap­pear, which does not mean the doom of art, since the movie actress of 2022 will not only need to know how to smile but also how to talk.”

Oth­er women, how­ev­er, have proven just as capa­ble as George had imag­ined: “All posi­tions will be open to them and a great many women will have risen high. The year 2022 will prob­a­bly see a large num­ber of women in Con­gress, a great many on the judi­cial bench, many in civ­il ser­vice posts, and per­haps some in the Pres­i­den­t’s Cab­i­net.” Georges fore­sees the birth-con­trol pill, but also the “pill lunch.” Unlike some reform­ers, he hes­i­tates to declare the abo­li­tion of the fam­i­ly, but he does imag­ine the “major­i­ty of mankind” occu­py­ing mod­u­lar homes in high-rise com­mu­nal dwellings (“I have a vision of walls, fur­ni­ture, and hang­ings made of more or less com­pressed papi­er-mâché”), all gath­ered in cli­mate-con­trolled cities set under glass.

On the whole, in 2022, “the advance­ment of sci­ence will be amaz­ing, but it will be noth­ing like so amaz­ing as is the present day in rela­tion to a hun­dred years ago.” Indeed, he sus­pects that a glimpse of our real­i­ty would­n’t much sur­prise “the lit­tle girl who sells can­dies at Grand Cen­tral Sta­tion.” It could even be dull, what with com­plete set­tle­ment and devel­op­ment leav­ing “no more oppor­tu­ni­ty in Amer­i­ca than there is in Eng­land to-day.” In 1922, George could write that “in fic­tion, Amer­i­ca leads the world by sin­cer­i­ty, faith and fear­less­ness,” and believe that “in 2022 Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture will be a lit­er­a­ture of cul­ture. The bat­tle will be over and the muz­zle off. There will be no more things one can’t say, and things one can’t think.” What­ev­er the inspi­ra­tions of his prophe­cy, they must not have told him about social media.

You can find a copy of George’s orig­i­nal arti­cle over at the Library of Con­gress.

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via Messy Nessy

Relat­ed Con­tent:

In 1953, a Tele­phone-Com­pa­ny Exec­u­tive Pre­dicts the Rise of Mod­ern Smart­phones and Video Calls

Jules Verne Accu­rate­ly Pre­dicts What the 20th Cen­tu­ry Will Look Like in His Lost Nov­el, Paris in the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry (1863)

In 1900, Ladies’ Home Jour­nal Pub­lish­es 28 Pre­dic­tions for the Year 2000

Futur­ist from 1901 Describes the World of 2001: Opera by Tele­phone, Free Col­lege & Pneu­mat­ic Tubes Aplen­ty

In 1911, Thomas Edi­son Pre­dicts What the World Will Look Like in 2011: Smart Phones, No Pover­ty, Libraries That Fit in One Book

In 1926, Niko­la Tes­la Pre­dicts the World of 2026

9 Sci­ence-Fic­tion Authors Pre­dict the Future: How Jules Verne, Isaac Asi­mov, William Gib­son, Philip K. Dick & More Imag­ined the World Ahead

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (72)
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  • Ibo says:

    Very inter­est­ing indeed. We need more peo­ple like George and fore­see what futures may lay boyond our hori­zon. His state­ments are pure­ly based and biased to his desires as well.

    Thank you for the post

  • Randall Gerber says:

    Feels like a fake to me.

  • Machelly says:

    City of Light: A Nov­el of Mod­ern Paris (1912),

  • Lacey says:

    This is so great. I’ve got to read the entire thing. How did they cor­rect­ly pre­dict so many things to come?

  • Al says:

    A British nov­el­ist made pre­dic­tions about Con­gress and the Pres­i­dent? I don’t think so. This seems to me fake.

  • Josh says:

    I wish I had that news paper!!!

  • Dan says:

    If you naysay­ers took the time to click on the link to the orig­i­nal arti­cle IN THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, you would know it is not fake.

    There’s a much sim­pler explanation…he’s a time trav­el­er. :-D

  • Lanette McCoy says:

    The world would look like the Jet­sons in the future. Robots as ser­vants, maids, com­put­er­ized stairs, life in space, dri­ving lit­tle jet cars, com­put­er­ized stoves, vend­ing machines with meals, just press a but­ton, and a meal will pop out..

  • Liana Dessaints says:

    I tru­ly hope that this is not the end of the world 🙏 I wor­ry for my fam­i­ly and grand­chil­dren. Let’s pray 🙏 it’s not SATANS WAY OF ENDING ALL GOOD THINGS THROUGH Christ.GOD BLESS US 🙏

  • Joey Armstrong says:

    TODAY ROCK N ROLL DIED IN FEBRUARY 3,1959 of bud­dy hol­ly big bop­per richie valens and anoth­er per­son aboard the air­plane that crashed all person’s who were on the plane had died GODBLESS rock n roll and RIP TO THE FOUR LEGENDS THAT WE WERE ROBBED OF BY TAKING TO SOON ! 63 years today that world announce­ment was made by fel­low pres­i­dent of USA

  • OC says:

    Hi all,

    Just curi­ous, we were curi­ous how you’re all find­ing this post today. Is it from Google? Or some­where else?

    Best regards,
    Open Cul­ture

  • Jacqueline says:

    I think this is Audi­ble on Google. Not sure how I was lucky enough to find this site but I have enjoyed read­ing this. Thank you. J

  • justin says:

    it was true I felt God writ­ing that threw me nev­er been more real I love every­one I just hope for what’s best

  • David says:

    Isn’t it amaz­ing that because of Cap­i­tal­ism it actu­al­ly took 100 years…

    So many For­tune 50 com­pa­nies did every­thing in their pow­er to pre­vent such progress. GM even Killed their Elec­tric Car, refused to allow peo­ple to buy the and destroyed all the EV1’s they had made. Thank­ful­ly that men­tal­i­ty allowed Tes­la to come into exis­tence. GM stock = $53 and Tes­la stock = $891. And Tes­la nev­er got Con­gress to pass laws pre­vent­ing Euro­pean cars from com­pet­ing.

    It was Mr Tes­la him­self that want­ed elec­tric­i­ty sent through the air…

  • Jeremy V says:

    Got this from the Google news feed on my Pixel…what a fun read! Thanks for post­ing it!

  • Tami says:

    Thank you. Peo­ple are so lazy these days. Always bark­ing but not look­ing out the win­dow to see why.

  • Tami says:

    Thanks so much for the inter­est­ing read. My favorite aunt was born 02/22/1922 so this jumped out to me. To think she lived thru all these changes.

  • Julia says:

    Google news feed.

  • Michelle says:

    This was an amaz­ing read today! I’d like to know how peo­ple find this type of infor­ma­tion. (?) I believe it is real. We have Malachy from The Bible pre­dict­ing all of the future Popes until Earth changes. We have Nos­tradamus pre­dic­tions still com­ing to us because humans have no idea how to be able to play nice with each oth­er in the sand­box. We have Jules Vern with his writ­ings and Tes­la with all of his writ­ings and exper­i­ments. Why not George? I may sound kooky but, I per­son­al­ly believe peo­ple are 100% able to do these things.

  • Mark says:

    And those stu­pid elec­tric cars have a car­bon foot­print 2x big­ger than a Hum­mer H2 thanks to the envi­ron­men­tal destruc­tion and trans­porta­tion required to mine those rare met­als used in the recharge­able bat­ter­ies. Don’t be a sheep; do some research.

  • Marshall Lentini says:

    And yet the muz­zle is on, and there is much one can­not say. So much for the future.

  • Mark says:

    I love the last bit that the author of this arti­cle added and can­not agree more. The cen­sor­ship and false nar­ra­tive imposed by today’s social media and media in gen­er­al has com­plete­ly under­mined any progress we have made in free speech.

    Our med­ical pro­fes­sion­als can’t even cure eas­i­ly treat­able dis­eases because big pharm has cen­sored inex­pen­sive and safe med­i­cines so that they can shove untest­ed, poten­tial­ly unsafe new, expen­sive med­i­cines down our throats.

  • Billy says:

    I found it using Google home page and found it very enter­tain­ing to see how insight­ful the author was . I real­ly enjoyed it. Keep up the good work

  • Oinkee says:

    Per­haps .… because this news­pa­per is a fake. Maybe not

  • Marla says:

    There nev­er was a time where one couldn’t “think “ a thing. We can always think what­ev­er we want. The fluc­tu­a­tions over time, in what is allowed to be said, is where the sticky bit comes in.

  • Jessica says:


  • Himmler says:

    Absolute­ly so fake you can clear­ly see the edit­ing

  • Jeremy Westerfield says:

    The head­line starts “In 1922, a Nov­el­ist Pre­dicts”. It was a hun­dred years ago. I think it’s safe to use the past tense.

  • Jay Gatsby says:

    Woke rub­bish

  • Red star says:

    Maybe it’s God bring­ing anoth­er flood. Maybe, this time it will be by mak­ing the plan­et too hot.

  • Red Star says:

    Maybe it’s pun­ish­ment for not bing a good stew­ard of the Earth.

  • Timothy says:

    I’d agree but to me we are way past all this, the top retired gen­er­als have all said in per­son that we have the tech­nol­o­gy to get ET home and back again.

  • Hmmmm says:

    This does not seem real. This looks like a fake arti­cle. If this is real, W.L. George is more accu­rate than Nos­tradamus. I’ll need to fact check this one.😉

  • David Norman says:

    See the new mes­sage from God. Ware not ending.we are eter­nal and came here to do things in God’s plan. Seek knowl­edge.

  • Timothy Ringwood says:

    Why would they lie?

  • Shaun Marston says:

    Elec­tric vehi­cles are an amaz­ing thing,but keep the facts in line that oil and coal are need­ed to make this pos­si­ble. Some­day, but not now we will be able to change the need for fos­sil fuels. Let’s all slow down and enjoy the tran­si­tion of change in a con­trolled man­ner. Whether you are Right or Left let’s use com­mon sense.

  • Dustin Allen West says:

    It’s not like he used mag­ic, he sim­ply took the past hun­dred years of advance­ments and fol­lowed them a hun­dred years in the future.
    I pre­dict in the year 2122 that smart phones will be unbreak­able and you won’t have to charge them because they will charge them­selves from move­ment etc.
    Not only will we have had a woman pres­i­dent but also one of col­or.
    Trans­porta­tion will no longer rely on fos­sil fuels and most of, if not all of it will be autonomous.
    I’m not try­ing to be neg­a­tive to the sto­ry I’m more just reply­ing to all the peo­ple that say it’s fake or that he is some kind of prophet.

  • TheeAudacity says:

    Just because you found it does­n’t mean that some­one did­n’t just cre­ate this in 2022 or 2018 for all we know.

  • Jack Owens says:

    Don’t make such rash state­ments with­out doing some lev­el of inves­ti­ga­tion. Some­one will always accept your implied chal­lenge to make you look fool­ish; unnec­es­sary.

  • Mark Seibold says:

    Dan, yes, I’ve got to read the entire arti­cle and look at the orig­i­nal news­pa­per print yet, but some of the com­ments obvi­ous­ly speak to the fact that many peo­ple don’t actu­al­ly read arti­cles, they just go to sites like this and read a few com­ments, and so quick to make their own. This must say some­thing today about how the inter­net is mis­used.

  • Patty Davidson says:

    Google per­son­al news feed

  • Pierre says:

    If you throw enough shit at a wall some of its bound to stick.

  • Jeremiah Brown says:

    “in 2022 Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture will be a lit­er­a­ture of cul­ture. The bat­tle will be over and the muz­zle off. There will be no more things one can’t say, and things one can’t think.”

    You said it did­n’t tell him about social media? I believe social media is per­fect­ly explained in this excerpt. Think about how social media has removed the muz­zle and allowed every­one, under the cloak of anony­mous courage, to tru­ly be free to speak with­out fear of phys­i­cal alter­ca­tion or reper­cus­sions. Just my hum­ble opin­ion.

  • Julius Omala says:

    I’m super thrilled with George’s pre­dic­tions that almost every­thing is now hap­pen­ing. Of course more devel­oped coun­tries may say they reached that point before 2022 but this was for the under­de­vel­oped coun­tries to wit­ness in process by process.
    Thank you George of A 100 years ago. And he only for­got to say that from 2022 on wards nobody else will be in posi­tion to pre­dict the future by far 100years ahead. Because of life expectan­cy in the world today.

  • Imez says:

    Let talk the wind com­bines their made of most­ly non recy­clables some green ener­gy is a myth

  • Jim leonard says:

    It came up on my home­page this morn­ing.

  • Norz says:

    My grand­moth­er was born in 1919, and she’s still alive today. I’m going to read her this old arti­cle and I can’t wait to see how she reacts! She does­n’t have the best short term mem­o­ry, but her long term mem­o­ry is bet­ter than mine, so she remem­bers what peo­ple in the 20s thought the future would bring.

  • Richard Graham says:

    Lis­ten a tv show called Star trek showed us cell flip phones were already thought of and prob­a­bly known about b4 we actu­al­ly knew any­thing about it. So and microwave quick dish­es ‚so then when it comes to future knowl­edge of any­thing hap­pen­ing is too pos­si­ble to be a real­i­ty, let’s stop act­ing like u ‚your­self cant think of futur­is­tic hap­pen­ings it’s called using your mind, not your tounge ‚to be absolute­ly bet­ter of this world is to know any­thing is pos­si­ble and thanks for the com­ment sec­tion. Hey hol­la bk . LOVE NOT HATE BLESS UP 🙏🏽

  • Rosalyn says:

    Haha yeah bet you can get it on life mag­a­zine so who gives a fuck

  • Mattyp says:

    My thoughts exact­ly looks pho­to­shopped

  • Kamanzi Julius says:

    Its amaz­ing! I love the com­par­i­son of the author today to George’s pre­dic­tions in 1922. Its tal­ent to have the six sense not all mankind can pre­dict things because oth­ers live on today and nev­er mind of the future. What am sure of in 2122 all us above 20years shall exist no more and peo­ple will react to our pre­dic­tions like we are doing today. Peo­ple have dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives of the world and life.

  • Paul Hunter says:

    This arti­cle is fas­ci­nat­ing. For a futur­ist to pre­dict many of tech­no­log­i­cal and social changes which have come to pass. Even the con­cept of cities under glass has come true in steel and glass sky­scrap­ers of 1980 and 1990s. We don’t use paper machie, but there’s new trend of car­bon fibers and laser print­ing. Did this man some­how trav­el briefly into future?

  • Ari says:

    Did any­one zoom in and read as much of the actu­al arti­cle where it says as for the horse it prob­a­bly will no longer be bred in white coun­tries. So racist

  • Robert Bruce says:

    Hi OC,

    It appeared on my Google feed.

    Thank you,


  • Axt113 says:

    It’s in the library of con­gress, moron

  • Brenda Ann Niell says:

    Are you r relat­ed to sal­ly Arm­strong Downs Hunt of first Lady debute to wear make­up ?are you relat­ed to lee Owen’s

  • Scott E says:

    Then he pre­dict­ed that a Repub­li­can pre­sisent would lose and make a “fake” claim that he’d won. Amaz­ing!

  • R md says:

    It might be bet­ter if he had­n’t guessed about it.… Did he guess that mad­ness in greater and greater num­bers would also come to pass?

  • Jeff says:

    Lis­ten to Paul Har­vey’s 1965 com­men­tary “if I were the dev­il” on you tube some­time for an inter­est­ing pre­dic­tion!

  • Roger Ritchey jr says:

    It’ll prob­a­bly be ille­gal to be a white con­ser­v­a­tive in less than a hun­dred years but at least black peo­ple will feel like life is fair then but I doubt it.

  • Brenda Davidson says:

    Was­n’t the fourth per­son Cow­boy Cor­pus, hus­band of Jean Shep­pard.

  • Tempo says:

    To all the peo­ple either freak­ing out about the accu­ra­cy or dis­put­ing whether the paper is gen­uine, I would remind you that there is a hefty dose of sur­vivor­ship bias in play.

    Essen­tial­ly, we are only talk­ing about W.L. George’s pre­dic­tions because he end­ed up being most­ly right when we expect him to be wrong, thus he is excep­tion­al and inter­est­ing.
    We are not talk­ing about the thou­sands of oth­er peo­ple who tried pre­dict­ing the future because they were wrong as we expect them to be and as such are unex­cep­tion­al and unin­ter­est­ing.

  • K.A.A. says:


  • Franklin dd says:

    a Repub­li­can per­sis­tent?!?! god damn I sure am glad you’re a reg­is­tered vot­er in my country.…fml smh

  • George Wilson says:

    Great arti­cle.
    A ques­tion was asked, “How did you find this arti­cle?” I got the link in an email from Al Lowe. He sends out a dai­ly joke but also inter­est­ing links.

  • Ebrahem Tohma says:

    Ebra­hem Tohma

  • Akindele. J Olufemi says:

    I love it to move about cul­ture

  • Sam Konor says:

    Inter­est­ing arti­cle. I love sto­ries like this.

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