1898 Edition

The first collected edition of The War of the Worlds (the “London First Edition”) was published in London by William Heinemann in 1898. The volume was significantly revised and expanded from the serialized version (see this site’s main page about the novel and the text comparison page). In addition to sentence-level edits, the novel was split into two “books” between chapters XVII (“The Thunder-Child”) and XVIII (“London Under the Martians”) in Pearson’s Installment 7. A new chapter, “The Man on Putney Hill,” was added between Installments 8 and 9 of the serialized version. The novel’s epilogue was also rearranged, cut down, and then expanded. A digital facsimile of the 1898 Heinemann edition is hosted by HathiTrust. The dedication page reads, “To my brother, Frank Wells, this rendering of his idea.” This is the first public declaration that Wells’s brother inspired the story; no dedication is included in the serialized version.

Because The Invisible Man had completed its serialization (in Pearson’s Weekly) and volume publication in 1897, the title page of The War of the Worlds describes Wells as “Author of ‘The Time Machine,’ ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau,’ ‘The Invisible Man,’ etc.” The inclusion of The Invisible Man in the list of Wells’s major works published before The War of the Worlds speaks to the ways in which serialization can complicate our perceptions regarding when texts were published in addition to where (venue) and how (material considerations). The War of the Worlds began serial publication in Pearson’s Monthly before The Invisible Man began serial publication in Pearson’s Weekly, but The Invisible Man completed serialization and volume publication before The War of the Worlds was published as a volume.

Such differences may seem relatively unimportant, but they contribute to a more nuanced understanding of Wells’s career trajectory and his relationship with Victorian readers. The Invisible Man‘s “official” publication date is 1897 and that of The War of the Worlds is 1898, but a Victorian periodical reader may well have encountered The War of the Worlds before The Invisible Man. Pearson’s advertised TIM in its monthly magazine and TWotW in its weekly paper, so that Wells’s novels promoted each other, and, through Wells, the magazine and weekly paper promoted each other. Despite the fact that both periodicals were published by Pearson’s, a monthly magazine and a weekly story paper might well have different audiences, so the opportunity to draw readers from one market to the other was a revenue-generating opportunity for the publisher. Something as simple as a publication date is therefore bound up in biographical information, Victorian reading habits, publication practices, advertising, and other concerns.