Time Machine


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WELLS, H.G. The Time Machine. An Invention. London: William Heinemann, 1895. Octavo, original beige cloth, uncut.

Preferred first English edition of H.G. Wells’ first, groundbreaking “scientific romance”—“a masterful marriage of the fictive art and theoretical science”—in original cloth, inscribed by Wells, “With the Author’s Kindest Regards.” From the collection of Wells’ scientific adviser and close friend Sir Richard Gregory.

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, From 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 making a "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). Indeed, "once it was published it modified and changed English and American fiction forever… Wells had produced a significant and seminal work… a masterful marriage of the fictive art and theoretical science" (Smith, 46, 50). 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, save for its trimmed top and bottom edges, conforms to Currey's "B1" binding: measures 18.2 centimeters from head to tail, boards stamped in purple ink, 16-page publisher's catalogue at rear begins with advertisement for The Manxman and ends with advertisement for The Naulahka. Currey, 424. Hammond B1. Wells Society 4. Cutler & Stiles, 153. This copy from the collection of noted British scientist and Wells' lifelong friend Sir Richard Arman Gregory. In Wells' first work of fiction, he dedicated the work to Gregory as his "dearest friend." A professor of astronomy, Gregory also possessed expertise in physics, chemistry and other disciplines; he wrote several textbooks and eventually assumed the editorship of the journal Nature, to which Wells frequently contributed. The author often turned to Gregory, and to the experts Gregory contacted on Wells' behalf, for insight and encouragement when writing his famous "scientific romances." Throughout his life Gregory was a passionate advocate for science—"It is necessary to believe in the holiness of scientific work," he once declared—and "an optimist about man's future" (Horrabin, in New Scientist, April 11, 1957).

Light foxing to endpapers. Light toning to spine, top corners slightly bumped. A beautiful inscribed presentation-association copy in near-fine condition, rarely found signed.

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