Wheels of Chance


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WELLS, H.G. The Wheels of Chance. A Bicycling Idyll. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1896. Octavo, original plum pictorial cloth.

First American edition of this early Wells novel, with illustrations by J. Ayton Symington, inscribed by Wells on the front free endpaper, "R.A. Gregory in appreciation & esteem, from H.G." Presented to and from the collection of Wells’ close friend and frequent scientific adviser, Sir Richard Arman Gregory.

Wells wrote The Wheels of Chance around the same time, and set in the same locales, as his more famous The War of the Worlds, and published it shortly after The Island of Dr. Moreau. "One day Wells wrote a description of the injuries that his legs had sustained in such [bicycling] incidents and found it growing into a comic novel about a cyclist, The Wheels of Chance. Wells used his travels to scout locations not only for this novel but for another, which would become one of his most celebrated books. During a visit from Frank, the brothers had discussed whether there might be life on other worlds. Just suppose beings from space were to descend here, Frank had suggested, indicating the peaceful Surrey countryside through which they were walking, and were to lay about them with futuristic weapons. Soon Wells was cycling through the Home Counties, marking down sites for destruction in The War of the Worlds" (Sherborne, 109). Preceded by the first English edition. See Hammond A1; Wells 9. Wells Society Bibliography 9. 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).

Text clean, cloth somewhat rubbed. A very good inscribed association copy of this early Wells title.

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