The War of the Worlds is set entirely in real locations in southern England. H. G. Wells wrote the novel when he was living in Surrey, England (see below entry on H. G. Wells’s home in Woking). By tying the novel’s events to specific villages and districts with which many of his readers would be familiar, Wells enhances the novel’s realism and echoes journalistic accounts of actual wars. The War of the Worlds exemplifies the “It could happen here” spirit common to many science-fiction and dystopian novels.

The below Google Map created for this project plots Wells’s residences alongside key locations mentioned in the novel. The text of each point on the map is also presented on this page below the map, along with an overview of each map category. (Note: the map’s sidebar reveals layers that can be optionally hidden.)

Three of the four critical editions of The War of the Worlds cited in the annotations for this project include the following maps of sites in Surrey that relate to the novel’s events:

Drawing from these critical editions as well as textual evidence from the serialized version of the novel and biographical information about Wells, this project’s Google Map tracks the landing sites of the Martian cylinders, key sites from the narrator’s and his brother’s respective journeys in London and southeastern England, and H. G. Wells’s various residences in England.

Martian Cylinder Landing Sites

Seven Martian cylinders fall in and near London over the course of the novel. The first lands in Woking, Surrey, with the rest scattered to the east and northeast toward central London. The narrator witnesses the first and fifth landings firsthand, but he hears about the others second-hand from witnesses and news sources, which are generally unreliable. The unreliability of news during and after the invasion contributes to some confusion or scarce information about several landing sites.

Martian Cylinder Landing Sites (expand/collapse)

Landing Site 1: Horsell Common

The first Martian cylinder lands on Horsell Common, which lies between Horsell, Ottershaw, and Woking in Surrey. Most of the accounts of the Martians’ arrival and initial attack take place on or near Horsell Common, primarily in chapters II-VI, though the site is mentioned several times later in the first half of the novel. The capsule crashes near the sand pits and creates a large crater, which becomes an attraction for local villagers. When the Martians finally emerge from their capsule, they point an invisible heat ray at the nearby villagers and policemen, which lights them on fire. Soldiers are sent in to combat the Martians, but they, too, are killed.

Landing Site 2: Addlestone Golf Links

There is some confusion about the landing site of the second Martian cylinder. In chapter VIII of the novel, the narrator writes that the second cylinder fell to the northwest of Woking. However, in chapter IX the narrator’s milkman says that “the pine woods about the Byfleet Golf Links” are burning due to the second cylinder landing, and in chapter XIII the second landing site is reported as the “Addlestone Golf Links.” Byfleet and Addlestone (both of which now have golf links today) lie to the northeast of Woking, but Addlestone is significantly farther north. Even David Y. Hughes and Harry M. Geduld’s annotated edition of the 1898 volume (Indiana UP, 1993) contradicts itself. On p. 206 Hughes and Geduld designates the golf course in question as the New Zealand Golf Course, which “was the only course thereabouts” when Wells was writing the novel. However, in their glossary of place names, they identify it as what is now called the West Byfleet Golf Course (228). The two courses are very close to one another, but they are not the same course. This map situates the landing site as the New Zealand Golf Course based on the details given on p. 206 compared with p. 228.

Landing Site 3: Pyrford

The third cylinder lands somewhere in Pyrford, which is east of Woking. In chapter X of the novel, the narrator travels through Pyrford and “ascends the little hill beyond Pyford Church” and can see Maybury Hill behind him. We may assume that this hill is to the east of the church and Maybury Hill, as the narrator is traveling in that direction. He sees the third cylinder fall “in the distant woods toward Addlestone,” which is to the north of Pyrford. In chapter XIII, the narrator hears that the Martians are transferring their supplies from the second and third cylinders back to their first site at Horsell Common. The second is the Addlestone Golf Links, but the third is simply the town of Pyrford, with no additional information beyond the events of chapter X. This map locates the site in the middle of Pyrford Golf Course, which is near Pyrford Church. This is a guess based on the fact that the course is east of Pyrford Church and it seems the Martians aimed their cylinders at golf courses, parks, and commons.

Landing Site 4: Bushey Park

The narrator learns after the fact that the fourth cylinder fell in Bushey (now spelled Bushy) Park, which is in Hampton on the north side of the Thames, east of the previous landing sites. No other information about this cylinder is given in the novel.

Landing Site 5: Sheen

The fifth cylinder coincidentally falls almost directly onto a house in which the narrator and the curate have taken temporary shelter in Sheen (ch. XVIII). They stop in Sheen because the curate “suddenly complained of faintness and thirst.” Sheen is initially deserted but undamaged, and the two break into a house for drinking water. The narrator also takes a small hatchet—an important plot device later—from the house. They then break into a second house with a greater store of food and drinks, which they must rely on during the time they are trapped in the house next to the fallen cylinder.

Landing Site 6: Wimbledon

All we are told about the sixth cylinder’s location (from chapter XVII) is that it landed in Wimbledon. The map site is estimated, as Wimbledon is a large area. Wimbledon Common was chosen for the map for the same reasons as the Pyrford site: the Martians tend to land in parks and commons.

Landing Site 7: Primrose Hill

Chapter XVII names Primrose Hill as the landing site of the seventh cylinder; Miss Elphinstone sees it fall from where she is travelling near Chipping Ongar with the narrator’s brother. In Chapter XXI, the narrator visits Primrose Hill and discovers the fate of the Martians.

The Narrator and His Brother

Over the course of the novel, the narrator makes his way from his home in Surrey east along the Thames to central London, roughly following the path of the Martian landing sites even as he tries to escape danger and reunite with his wife. His path through Surrey and London makes him an ideal witness to the full arc of the invasion and to the destruction of the southern English countryside. With a few exceptions, the narrator attempts to keep a somewhat journalistic distance from the events, and asserts that his accounts are accurate and non-sensationalist.

However, the narrator does not arrive in London or the area immediately surrounding the city until after the Martians have laid waste to it. He therefore draws from his brother’s account of the attack on London to fill in those gaps. The brother’s narrative is limited to chapters XIV, XVI, and XVII. It far more closely resembles an action-adventure narrative than the narrator’s journalistic style. It includes the epic mass exodus from London, the panic of people fleeing northward, a daring rescue of damsels in distress, and a cinematic battle between a warship and the Martians’ fighting machines.

The Narrator's Journey (expand/collapse)


The narrator’s home is in Maybury, Woking, Surrey.

Chobham Road

In Chapter VI the Martians who landed near Horsell Common attack humans with their Heat Ray in Chobham Road. (This map point is a rough location estimate.)


In Chapter IX, as the fighting heats up, the narrator decides to take his wife to stay with his cousins in Leatherhead for her safety. He plans to re-join her there, but is derailed by the Martians’ attack.


In Chapter X, the narrator passes through Pyrford around midnight after the attack; he hears Pyrford Church’s bells tolling midnight behind him.

Weybridge and Shepperton

The narrator witnesses the Martians destroying Weybridge and Shepperton in Chapter XII after he flees the area.

Walton / Halliford

After narrowly escaping the Martian attack by fleeing down the Thames, the narrator collapses on the “the Middlesex [river] bank” (the north bank) just before the bridge at Walton-on-Thames (ch. XIII). It is north of the bridge, in Halliford, where the narrator “falls in with the Curate.” The two decide to head north from Halliford together because they hear guns from the south.

Richmond and Kingston

In Chapter XV, from a house in Upper Halliford, the narrator and the curate witness the Martians destroying Richmond and Kingston and their surrounding hills with the Heat Ray and their Black Smoke.

Hampton Court

The narrator and the curate pass through Hampton Court on their way to Twickenham around 6:00pm in Chapter XVIII.


In Chapter XVIII the narrator and the curate pass through Twickenham. Twickenham is undamaged, but they can see Ham burning across the Thames.

Putney Bridge

In Chapter XXI, the narrator passes through Putney, which has been destroyed by the Heat Ray, and on the other side of Putney Bridge he comes across a man: the first living human being he has seen apart from the curate since fleeing Surrey. The man is “as black as a sweep with the black dust, and helplessly and speechlessly drunk.”

Fulham Road

In Chapter XXI, the narrator passes by a row of burning houses and then stumbles across “about a dozen” dead bodies “in the length of Fulham Road.” Further down the road he comes across” a tattered woman in a heap on a doorstep.” (Fulham Road is fairly long; this is an approximate location.)

Exhibition Road

In Chapter XXI, the narrator first hears the “Ulla, ulla” from a Martian fighting machine in South Kensington. The sound “came in full tide down Exhibition Road”; the narrator looks north toward Kensington Gardens, from which direction the sound seems to be coming.

Oxford Street

In Chapter XXI the narrator goes “into Oxford Street by the Marble Arch, where he finds “black powder and several bodies.” Soon thereafter he breaks into a pub for food and drink and falls asleep there.

Baker Street / Regent’s Park

In Chapter XII the narrator walks up Baker Street and sees “far away over the trees [of Regent’s Park] in the clearness of the sunset, the hood of the Martian giant from which this howling proceeded.”

The Regent’s Canal

In Chapter XXI the narrator finds the Regent’s Canal “a spongy mass of dark red vegetation.”

The Brother's Journey (expand/collapse)

Waterloo Station

In Chapter XIV, the narrator’s brother is studying in London when he hears the news about the Martians landing in Surrey. He decides to take a train to Maybury that evening to see the narrator and the action in Woking, but when he gets to Waterloo Station, he is told that an accident is preventing trains from reaching Woking. He returns the next day after church to check for news.

The Foundling Hospital

On Sunday morning in Chapter XIV, the narrator’s brother goes to church at the Foundling Hospital in Bloomsbury. (Today, the Foundling Museum stands on the former site of the hospital.)

Wellington Street

The narrator’s brother walks back up north from Waterloo Station through Wellington street on Sunday evening, where he runs into “a couple of sturdy roughs who had just rushed out of Fleet Street with still wet newspapers and staring placards” (ch. XIV). 

Trafalgar Square

In Chapter XIV the narrator’s brother continues on his journey through London on Sunday Evening from Wellington Street west to Trafalgar Square, where he ultimately decides to “turn down towards Victoria.”

Victoria Station

In Chapter XIV the narrator’s brother continues on his journey through London on Sunday Evening from Wellington Street west to Trafalgar Square, where he ultimately decides to “turn down towards Victoria.”

Regent’s Park

In Chapter XIV, after seeing the refugees from Woking at Victoria Station, the narrator’s brother returns to “his apartments near Regent’s Park.”

Chalk Farm

In Chapter XVI, the narrator’s brother attempts to catch a train at Chalk Farm Station, but is turned away.

Belsize Road

Because the road at Haverstock Hill is blocked, the narrator’s brother heads east along Belsize Road.


In Chapter XVI the narrator’s brother reaches Edgware; he has to walk the last mile because the bicycle he was riding breaks. Here gets caught up in a fleeing crowd and meets two young women (Mrs. and Miss Elphinstone) who are in trouble.

Chipping Ongar

The narrator’s brother and the two women he meets in Edgware pass through Chipping Ongar in Chapter XVII. There they see “a placard … announcing that large stores of flour were available in the northern towns and that within twenty-four hours bread would be distributed among the starving people in the neighbourhood.”


In Chapter XVI the narrator’s brother decides to head east because he has friends in Chelmsford. He and Mrs. and Miss Elphinstone reach there together in Chapter XVII.


In Chapter XVII the narrator’s brother and the two women he rescues arrive in Tillingham on foot, as their pony was confiscated in Chelmsford. After passing through Tillingham they push on to the coast with the intention of getting passage on a ship out of England.

Battle of the “Thunder Child”

The battle between the warship the Thunder Child and the Martian fighting machines takes place near Blackwater River.

H. G. Wells’s Major Residences

H. G. Wells spent his life in southern England, predominately in Surrey and near central London. Consequently, many of his novels are set in and near London or similar environs. This project’s map makes clear that The War of the Worlds is set in locales that were well known to Wells. Note: Not all of Wells’s residences are listed here, as he moved quite a bit and rented more than one place at once in some instances.

H. G. Wells's Residences (expand/collapse)

H. G. Wells’s Birthplace

Wells was born Herbert George Wells on September 21, 1866 at Atlas House (on the High Street) in Bromley, Kent.

H. G. Wells’s Homes in Primrose Hill

Wells lived at 12 Fitzroy Road and 46 Fitzroy Road in Primrose Hill in 1888-1891. It is thought that he might have begun writing The War of the Worlds during his time there, but regardless, the area features in the novel.

H. G. Wells’s Home in Wandsworth

In 1891-1893 Wells lived with his wife, Isabel, at 28 Haldon Road in Wandsworth (now part of London).

H. G. Wells’s Homes in Mornington Place and Mornington Road

In 1893 Wells separated from Isabel and began seeing a woman named Amy Catherine Robbins. During the period of 1893-1895 he moved to 7 Mornington Place, then 12 Mornington Road, to be near her.

H. G. Wells’s Home in Woking

In 1895-1896 Wells lived in a semi-detached house called Lynton at 141 Maybury Road in Woking, Surrey, where The War of the Worlds begins. He was in the process of divorcing his first wife (his cousin Isabel Mary Wells) and shared the house with another woman (Amy Catherine Robbins), who he married later in 1895. Wells’s time in Woking was extremely prolific. In addition to The War of the Worlds, while living in Woking he wrote The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (serialized in Pearson’s Weekly in July of 1897 and collected the same year), and The First Men in the Moon (serialized in The Strand Magazine 1900-1901, collected 1901), as well as other novels and short stories.

H. G. Wells’s Home in Worcester Park

In 1896 Wells and his new wife moved to a larger detached house called Heatherlea in The Avenue in Worcester Park, where they lived until 1899. Wells’s increased income due to the successes of his recently published novels allowed them to afford a larger home that could accommodate Amy’s ailing mother. During his time at Heatherlea, Wells wrote When the Sleeper Wakes (serialized as The Sleeper Awakes in The Graphic 1898-9, collected 1910), and the neighborhood was used as the setting for his novel Ann Veronica (1909). The location of the house on this map is approximated, as no specific address along The Avenue is available. The house was torn down in 1955.

H. G. Wells’s Home in Sandgate

In December of 1900, Wells and his family moved into Spade House—which was built for him—in Sandgate, near Folkstone, and lived there through 1909.

H. G. Wells’s Home Near Easton Lodge

In 1910-1928 Wells rented a cottage called Easton Glebe on the estate of Easton Lodge in addition to his London home. During his time there he entered the social circle of the Countess of Warwick. He also had a 10-year affair with Rebecca West, and their son was born in 1914.

H. G. Wells’s Home at Chiltern Court

In 1930-1936 Wells lived in a flat at Chiltern Court in London. Arnold Bennet also lived and died in the building.

H. G. Wells’s Home Near Regent’s Park

In 1935 Wells took a flat at 13 Hanover Terrace in London, where he died on August 13, 1946.