“THE MOST IMPORTANT FOUNDATION… OF THE SCIENCE FICTION GENRE”: H.G. WELLS’ THE TIME MACHINE, THE PREFERRED FIRST ENGLISH EDITION
WELLS, H.G. The Time Machine. An Invention. London: William Heinemann, 1895. 12mo, original beige cloth, uncut. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box.
Preferred first English edition of H.G. Wells’ first, groundbreaking “scientific romance,” in original cloth.
In 1894 Wells “began writing what he called ‘single sitting stories’ using his special knowledge of science, culminating in the publication of his novella The Time Machine in 1895… It was an immediate success” (Gunn, Gilgamesh to Wells, 337). Its earliest readers grasped its significance: as one contemporary review states, “So far as our knowledge goes [Wells] has produced that rarity which Solomon declared to be not merely rare but non-existent—a ‘new thing under the sun” (Bergonzi, 41). Important not only for establishing Wells as a popular author but also for its “crucial breakthrough in narrative technology, providing science fiction with one of its most significant facilitating devices” (Clute & Nicholls, 1227), “it is the most important foundation stone of British scientific romance and the science fiction genre in general” (Anatomy of Wonder II:1232). This edition retains more of the text from the novel’s 1895 New Review serial appearance than the American edition (published in May of the same year; the English edition published in May and August of the same year), and is thus preferred. The book was published simultaneously in wrappers and cloth; this copy is Currey’s “B1” binding: measuring 18.2 centimeters from head to tail, boards stamped in purple ink and 16-page publisher’s catalogue at rear beginning with advertisement for The Manxman and ending with advertisement for The Naulahka. Currey, 424. Bookplate. Old pencil bibliographic notation.
Occasional light foxing. Very nearly fine condition, far nicer than usually found.