The War of the Worlds (Penguin Classics) Read online


  H. G. WELLS, the third son of a small shopkeeper, was born in Bromley in 1866. After two years’ apprenticeship in a draper’s shop, he became a pupil-teacher at Midhurst Grammar School and won a scholarship to study under T. H. Huxley at the Normal School of Science, South Kensington. He taught biology before becoming a professional writer and journalist. He wrote more than a hundred books, including novels, essays, histories and programmes for world regeneration.

  Wells, who rose from obscurity to world fame, had an emotionally and intellectually turbulent life. His prophetic imagination was first displayed in pioneering works of science fiction such as The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897) and The War of the Worlds (1898). Later he became an apostle of socialism, science and progress, whose anticipations of a future world state include The Shape of Things to Come (1933). His controversial views on sexual equality and women’s rights were expressed in the novels Ann Veronica (1909) and The New Machiavelli (1911). He was, in Bertrand Russell’s words, ‘an important liberator of thought and action’.

  Wells drew on his own early struggles in many of his best novels, including Love and Mr Lewisham (1900), Kipps (1905), Tono-Bungay (1909) and The History of Mr Polly (1910). His educational works, some written in collaboration, include The Outline of History (1920) and The Science of Life (1930). His Experiment in Autobiography (2 vols, 1934) reviews his world. He died in London in 1946.

  PATRICK PARRINDER took his MA and Ph.D. at Cambridge University, where he held a Fellowship at King’s College and published his first two books on Wells, H. G. Wells (1970) and H. G. Wells: The Critical Heritage (1972). He has been Chairman of the H. G. Wells Society and editor of the Wellsian, and has also written on James Joyce, science fiction, literary criticism and the history of the English novel. His book Shadows of the Future (1995) brings together his interests in Wells, science fiction and literary prophecy. Since 1986 he has been Professor of English at the University of Reading.

  BRIAN ALDISS has been writing for half a century. He is best known for his science fiction novels and stories, but has also written many novels on contemporary subjects, poetry and non-fiction. Aldiss was born in Norfolk in 1925. He soldiered in the Far East, chiefly Burma, Sumatra and Hong Kong, during and after the Second World War. In 2000 he was made Grand Master of Science Fiction by the Science Fiction Writers of America and given an Honorary D.Litt. by the University of Reading. His history of science fiction, Billion Year Spree (1973), is generally considered to be the best and wittiest survey of the field.

  ANDY SAWYER is the librarian of the Science Fiction Foundation Collection at the University of Liverpool Library, and Course Director of the MA in Science Fiction Studies offered by the School of English. He also teaches a science fiction module for undergraduates. He has published widely on science fiction and related literatures, and co-edited the collection of essays Speaking Science Fiction (Liverpool University Press, 2000). He is also Reviews Editor of Foundation: the International Review of Science Fiction and Associate Editor of the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Themes in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Greenwood Press).


  The War of the Worlds


  With an Introduction by BRIAN ALDISS

  and Notes by ANDY SAWYER



  Published by the Penguin Group

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  First published 1898

  This edition first published in Penguin Classics 2005


  Text copyright © the Literary Executors of the Estate of H. G. Wells

  Biographical Note, Further Reading, Note on the Text copyright © Patrick Parrinder, 2005

  Introduction copyright © Brian Aldiss, 2005

  Appendix and Notes copyright © Andy Sawyer, 2005

  All rights reserved

  The moral right of the editors has been asserted

  Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser


  Biographical Note


  Further Reading

  Note on the Text


  Appendix: Note on Places in the Novel


  Biographical Note

  Herbert George Wells was born on 21 September 1866 at Bromley, Kent, a small market town soon to be swallowed up by the suburban growth of outer London. His father, formerly a professional gardener and a county cricketer renowned for his fast bowling, owned a small business in Bromley High Street selling china goods and cricket bats. The house was grandly known as Atlas House, but the centre of family life was a cramped basement kitchen underneath the shop. Soon Joseph Wells’s cricketing days were cut short by a broken leg, and the family fortunes looked bleak.

  Young ‘Bertie’ Wells had already shown great academic promise, but when he was thirteen, his family broke up and he was forced to earn his own living. His father was bankrupt, and his mother left home to become resident housekeeper at Uppark, the great Sussex country house where she had worked as a lady’s maid before her marriage. Wells was taken out of school to follow his two elder brothers into the drapery trade. After serving briefly as a pupil-teacher and a pharmacist’s assistant, in 1881 he was apprenticed to a department store in Southsea, working a thirteen-hour day and sleeping in a dormitory with his fellow-apprentices. This was the unhappiest period of his life, though he would later revisit it in comic romances such as Kipps (1905) and The History of Mr Polly (1910). Kipps and Polly both manage to escape from their servitude as drapers, and in 1883, helped by his long-suffering mother, Wells cancelled his indentures and obtained a post as teaching assistant at Midhurst Grammar School near Uppark. His intellectual development, long held back, now progressed astonishingly. He passed a series of examinations in science subjects and, in September 1884, entered the Normal School of Science, South Kensington (later to become part of Imperial College of Science and Technology) on a government scholarship.

  Wells was a born teacher, as many of his books would show, and at first he was an enthusiastic student. He had the good fortune to be taught biology and zoology by one of the most influential scientific thinkers of the Victorian age, Darwin’s friend and supporter T. H. Hux