While most attempts at creating utopian societies have ended in failure, few were as fraudulent as La Nouvelle-France on the island of New Ireland (now part of Papua New Guinea).

Its founder, the Marquis de Rays, was a charismatic monomaniac who dreamed of creating a South Pacific utopia. He launched this scheme in 1877 and soon investors poured in money, and would-be utopian settlers joined up. During 1880–81, several hundred people sailed on inadequate ships to where they expected to find utopia, but instead found a swampy, malarial-infested wasteland, surrounded by cannibalistic neighbours. Some were killed while others died of disease and starvation before the survivors made their ways to Australia, New Zealand, other Pacific islands, or back to Europe.

At a sensational trial in Paris, The Marquis de Rays and several associates were fined and sentenced to prison.

You do not currently have access to this content.