War in the Air


Item#: 104733 We're sorry, this item has been sold

War in the Air
War in the Air


WELLS, H.G. The War in the Air and Particularly How Mr. Bert Smallways Fared While It Lasted. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1911. Octavo, original red cloth gilt, color pictorial onlay to front board, uncut.

Early edition of Wells’ “fusion of comedy and satirical melodrama” (Anatomy of Wonder II-1233) anticipating the airplane’s role in modern warfare, inscribed by Wells on the half title, "To RAGs with love H.G." with a flourish under the printed title.

Wells wrote this novel in 1907, when tensions between England and Germany were on the rise, making war seem increasingly likely—and the airplane was barely four years old. Connecting these two realities, Wells speculates on how manned flight will change warfare. He envisons a true world war, dogfights and large "aerial navies," with destructive capabilities never before seen. The airplane's role in warfare "proved as apocalyptically destructive as he prophesied" (Benet, 1082). In sharp contrast to the "enthusiastic jingoism" of other authors in the "future-war subgenre" of the time, Wells warns that, unless nations make different and better choices, their imperialistic, militaristic paths will lead to the world's destruction (Anatomy of Wonder II-1233). This novel is also notable for introducing the phrase "the war in the air" to refer to this new military front. Illustrated with black-and-white frontispiece and 15 black-and-white plates. First published in 1908. Currey, 425. Hammond B11. Weinstein, 31. Cutler & Stiles, 155. Inscribed to 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." The two met while students at the Normal School of Science in South Kensington. They jointly authored a textbook, Honours Physiography, in 1891. Reportedly, Gregory was the one person with whom Wells never quarreled. 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." After Wells' death, Gregory worked to establish the H.G. Wells Memorial to preserve public attention to his friend's body of work. 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).

Scattered light foxing; mild wear and soiling to toned spine of original cloth, cover illustration bright. An extremely good copy.

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