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The Time Machine.

An Invention.

London: William Heinemann, 1895 Stock Code: 145282
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Wells's seminal speculation into the year 802,701

First UK edition, first issue (with the 16-page publisher's catalogue starting with "The Manxman", and requisite binding points). It is preceded, earlier in the same month, by an American edition rife with errors - Heinemann's was the first appearance of the definitive text.

In 1888 Wells had written a series of articles concerning time travel entitled "The Chronic Argonauts" for The Science Schools Journal, a magazine that he had founded whilst a student. Some six years later he revised them for the National Observer, and then rewrote them as the serial "The Time Traveler's Story" for The New Review. The editor of both journals W. E. Henley, then persuaded Heinemann to publish the whole story as a book. So it was that Wells came to write The Time Machine, not only his first novel but also a pioneering highlight of the science fiction genre. "And if you want to know what impresses me it is to see how you contrive to give over humanity into the clutches of the Impossible and yet manage to keep it down (or up) to its humanity, to its flesh, blood, sorrow, folly. THAT is achievement!" (Joseph Conrad).

This copy bears on its front pastedown the pictorial bookplate of Annie M. Gurney, of which little is known. The bookplate, however, is pictured in Labouchere's Ladies' book-plates (1895) and described as "the single plate designed for a lady's use by Alice B. Woodward (1862-1951). Her clever inventions for Christmas cards, and other decorative items, have been frequently reproduced in The Studio and other illustrated magazines. Her style betrays peculiar force, and a certain diablerie, which would hardly be imagined, judged by the one example we can illustrate" (pp. 180 & 185).

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Octavo. Original tan buckram, title to spine and front cover in purple, sphinx motif to front cover and publisher's monogram to rear cover in purple, untrimmed.


Spine ends a trifle bumped, spine slightly rolled and lightly darkened as usual, faint red mark to fore edge of front board, the binding otherwise firm and fresh, first and last few leaves foxed as often, else internally clean and bright; a very good copy.


Bleiler, Science-Fiction 2325; Wells 4.


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