“Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life": First Edition of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine
The Time Machine: An Invention.
Item Number: 97955
London: William Heinemann, 1895.
First English edition, first issue of Wells’ groundbreaking “scientific romance”- a work generally credited with the popularization of the concept of time travel by using a vehicle that allows an operator to travel purposely and selectively forwards or backwards in time. Octavo, original cloth, front panel and spine stamped in purple with sphinx vignette. In near fine condition, bookplate. First issue with first priority sixteen-page publisher’s catalogue at end. Cover artist by Ben Hardy. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. An exceptional example.
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). It has been adapted into three feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions.