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The young Cambridge-educated Samuel Butler arrived in Canterbury in 1860. He established a successful sheep station in a remote mountainous region, doubled his £4,000 capital, and returned to England in 1864. Butler’s Erewhon, the fantastical satire which made his name, was begun in Canterbury and published in London in 1872, the year before he painted this self portrait. Like Butler, the narrator of ‘Erewhon’ is attracted to unexplored mountain ranges; when he reaches an isolated mountain civilisation which has centuries before rejected machinery, the Erewhonian’s fears (‘May not man himself become a sort of parasite upon the machines?’) strike a strangely contemporary note.