Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803–1873) was a British politician and novelist. He coined a number of phrases that are still in use today; ‘the great unwashed’, ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ and ‘pursuit of the almighty dollar’. The last is from his 1871 science fiction novel, Vril: The Power of the Coming Race, which describes an underground race of superior beings with advanced powers.
I have been reminded by Ronan Coghlan that the beef extract, Bovril, developed in the 1870’s, had used ‘vril’ as part of its name to imply ‘bull-power’!
He was adopted by English Rosicrucians as their ‘Grand Patron’. The influence of Bulwer-Lytton extended to Helena Blavatsky who “compared Vril with the sidereal force of the Atlanteans, called Mash-Mak.” (e)
William Scott-Elliott took Bulwer-Lytton’s ideas seriously and has shown their influence in his references to Atlantis. In the early part of the 20th century this fictional concept of vril was incorporated into esoteric Nazism, including the work of Brazilian right-winger, Gustavo Barosso.
On a lighter note, Bulwer-Lytton’s name has been given to a competition(d) that “challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.” There have been many worthy winners.
(b) http://www.vrilology.org/INDEX.HTML (offline Nov 13)
(c) http://www.vrilology.org/Atlantis_page.htm (offline Nov 13)
(e) Fortean Times No.303 July 2013 p.43