Installment 5 Annotations Transcript

The War of the Worlds: Pearson’s Magazine Installment 5 Annotations

by Madeline B. Gangnes

This installment comprises the text that is roughly comparable to Book I (“The Coming of the Martians”), Chapter XIV and part of XV of the 1898 collected edition and subsequent versions.

The majority of the annotations on this page draw from the following critical editions of The War of the Worlds, which will be cited and tagged according to the last name(s) of the editor(s) of that edition:

DANAHAY: Martin A. Danahay. The War of the Worlds. Broadview Press, 2003.

HUGHES AND GEDULD: David Y. Hughes and Harry M. Geduld, eds. A Critical Edition of The War of the Worlds: H. G. Wells’s Scientific Romance, with Introduction and Notes by David Y. Hughes and Harry M. Geduld. Indiana UP, 1993.

MCCONNELL: Frank McConnell, ed. The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds: A Critical Edition. Oxford UP, 1977.

STOVER: Leon Stover. The War of the Worlds: A Critical Text of the 1898 London First Edition, with an Introduction, Illustrations and Appendices. McFarland and Company, Inc, 2001.

Madeline Gangnes has added additional annotations and resources, especially those that address materials related to Pearson’s Magazine and adaptations of the text. They are cited with their source(s) (where applicable) and referenced as GANGNES.

Annotation: crammer’s biology class

From MCCONNELL 191: “an advanced student or younger teacher who, for a fee, tutors other students in preparation for their examinations”

From DANAHAY 98: a crammer was/is “somebody who helps students ‘cram’ for their exams. This was usually a graduate student or somebody with an advanced degree; Wells himself worked as a ‘crammer’ preparing students for science exams.”

Annotation: St. James’ Gazette

From MCCONNELL: evening paper published 1880-1905

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 212: “Established in 1880, St. James’s Gazette was a pro-Tory paper with features that also appealed to readers with intellectual literary interests.”

GANGNES: St. James’s Gazette (Pearson’s mistakenly leaves off the second “S”) was a conservative daily broadsheet. It included social, political, and literary commentary, news, marriage announcements, stock market prices, and advertisements.


Annotation: music-hall

From DANAHAY 99: “a vaudeville type of entertainment in a theater comprised of singing, comedy and dancing”

Annotation: Virginia Water or Guildford. They were busy making the necessary arrangements to alter the route of the Southampton and Portsmouth

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 234: Virginia Water is “a small town in northwest Surrey, eighteen miles west-southwest of central London. It is the site of an artificial lake from which the town takes its name.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 229: Guildford is “a town in west-central Surrey, on the river Wey, about twenty-five miles southwest of central London.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 223: Southampton is “a major seaport in south Hampshire, about seventy miles southwest of London.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 232: Portsmouth is “a town and major naval base on Portsea Island, southeast Hampshire, sixty-three miles southwest of central London.”

Annotation: Sunday League

From MCCONNELL 192: Sunday Leagues were “religious groups which gathered to protest the opening of pubs on the Sabbath”

From DANAHAY 99: a Sunday League was a group “opposed to opening the pubs on Sundays [who] organized wholesome alternatives such as excursions”

Annotation: The majority of people in London do not read Sunday papers.

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 212: “In the 1890s, Sunday papers far outsold dailies…. Wells did not foresee the change and unwittingly ‘dated’ his narrative for future readers” when newspaper reading habits changed.

Annotation: Flying Hussars

From MCCONNELL 193: “light cavalry specializing in swift attack”

Annotation: That was how the Sunday Sun put it, and a clever, and remarkably prompt “hand-book” article in the Referee

From MCCONNELL 193: “Two evening papers. The Sun was published 1893-1906, the Referee 1877-1928.

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 212: “The Sun, London’s first popular halfpenny evening newspaper, was established in 1893 by T. P. O’Connor. A former London weekly, the Referee (founded 1877), was popular for its focus on humor, satire, sports, and theater.”

GANGNES: The Referee was a “Sunday sporting newspaper”; the Sun was a Tory newspaper.


Annotation: menagerie

From DANAHAY 100: “a collection of wild or foreign animals kept for exhibition”

Annotation: Foundling Hospital

From MCCONNELL 193: “One of the first hospitals and nurseries for abandoned or illegitimate children, the Foundling Hospital was founded in 1739 in the London district of Bloomsbury.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 212: “The Founding Hospital, in Bloomsbury, London, near the British Museum, was established in 1739 by Thomas Coram. Despite its name, it was not a home for foundlings but a shelter for illegitimate children whose mothers were known.”

Annotation: places on the South-Western network

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 212: “The various routes and stations of the (now defunct) South-Western Railway Company. Its terminus is Waterloo Station, London. The network had three main branches: the Northern, serving locations in the direction of Staines and Reading; the Central, serving locations in the direction of Bournemouth and Southampton; and the Southern, serving locations in the direction of Guildford, Epsom, and Leatherhead.”

Annotation: Putney

GANGNES: village/area on the south bank of the Thames on the way from Woking toward central London; about three-quarters of the way there

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 232: “a district of London located immediately south of the Thames, about seven miles west of the city center”

Annotation: traps

From DANAHAY 101: small carriages with two wheels

Annotation: Molesey

GANGNES: village on the south bank of the Thames on the way from Woking to central London, beyond Weybridge and Walton but not quite as far as Kingston

Annotation: underground railway

From MCCONNELL 194: The first “tube”/underground railway was opened in London in 1890.

Annotation: “lungs”

From DANAHAY 101: “green spaces supposed to act like ‘lungs’ providing clean air for the rest of London”

Annotation: Barnes, Wimbledon, Richmond Park, Kew

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 227: Barnes is “a district of greater London south of the Thames, between Putney (on the east) and Mortlake (on the west), and about six miles west-southwest of central London.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 235: Wimbledon is “a district of greater London, in north Surrey, about eight miles southwest of central London. Famous as the home of the All England Lawn Tennis Club–where international tennis tournaments are held annually. The sixth cylinder lands here.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: Richmond Park is “a large recreation area in Richmond.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 230: Kew is a “residential district in Richmond, northeast Surrey, on the Thames, about eight miles west of central London. It is the site of Kew Gardens (the Royal Botanical Gardens), with its famous Pagoda.”

Annotation: unnaturally early hours

From MCCONNELL 195: “That is, the authorities are blocking off the area from which the Martian invasion comes.”

Annotation: between the South-Eastern and the South-Western stations

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 213: “Adjoining the Waterloo Station terminus of the South-Western Railway was another station belonging to the South-Eastern Railway (a separate company providing service to locations in the direction of Margate, Dover, Folkstone, and Hastings), whose terminus was Charing Cross. Normally there were barriers preventing passengers from moving directly from one railroad to another. These barriers had been lifted because of the emergency situation.”

Annotation: Woolwich and Chatham

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 235: Woolwich is “a suburb of greater London, on the south bank of the Thames, about ten miles from central London. It is the site of the Royal Arsenal, Royal Military Academy, and Royal Artillery Barracks.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 228: Chatham is “a town in north Kent and the site of an important naval base. It is on the river Medway, about thirty miles east-southeast of London.”

Annotation: evensong

From DANAHAY 102: evening prayer

Annotation: Salvation Army

From MCCONNELL 195: “The Salvation Army was founded in 1878 by the Methodist minister and social worker William Booth, for the purpose of aiding the inhabitants of the terrible slums in the East End of London.”

Annotation: lasses

From DANAHAY 102: young women

Annotation: curious brown scum

From STOVER 137: residue from the Black Smoke upstream

Annotation: Clock Tower and the Houses of Parliament

GANGNES: The Houses of Parliament are on the north bank of the Thames in Westminster, between Westminster Abbey and Westminster Bridge. The “Clock Tower” here is commonly referred to today as “Big Ben.”

Annotation: reservist

From MCCONNELL 195: “The reorganization of the British Army included an emphasis upon the reserve forces; but there was considerable doubt throughout the years before World War I whether a ‘reserve’ soldier would really be able to function in a battlefield situation.”

From DANAHAY 102: “somebody in the army reserve force”

Annotation: roughs

From DANAHAY 102: working-class young men

Annotation: Fleet Street

GANGNES: Fleet Street is a central London road on the north side of the Thames; it becomes (the) Strand (see below) to the west. During the Victorian period it was the home of most major London periodical publishers. It is associated with the story of Sweeney Todd: the “Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” who appeared in the Victorian “penny dreadful” The String of Pearls: A Romance (1846-7).

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 229: Fleet Street is “a famous central London thoroughfare linking Ludgate Circus and The Strand. Until 1988 it was the home of many of London’s most important newspapers. During Wells’s lifetime ‘Fleet Street’ was a term synonymous with the British press.”

More information:

Annotation: still wet newspapers

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 213: “This is a slip. Until about 1870, paper was dampened to ensure a good printing impression and was then dried, but by the 1890s dry paper was used…. The anachronism disappears in the Heinemann edition (p. 127), which reads: ‘type, so fresh that the paper was still wet.’”

GANGNES: It is unclear what HUGHES AND GEDULD mean when they write that the “anachronism disappears in the Heinemann edition”; the Heinemann edition also includes this line on page 124.

Annotation: He had to give threepence for a copy of that paper

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 213: “Threepence a copy was three to six times the normal price.”

From DANAHAY 102: “Wells is implying that newspapers were exploiting the situation by making their newspapers unusually expensive.”

Annotation: field guns

From MCCONNELL 196: “heavy cannon mounted on carriages”

Annotation: wire guns

From MCCONNELL 196: “Field pieces with finely-wound wire, coiled under tension, inside their barrels. An early form of rifling (introduced in 1855), the wire coil made it possible to construct a much thinner and lighter barrel than previously, and also increased greatly the effective range of the projectile. Wire guns were used extensively during the period, and in the First World War.”

From DANAHAY 103: “artillery with wire wound in the barrels that increased their power and range”

Annotation: quasi proclamation

From MCCONNELL 197: “That is, an official statement which does not quite claim to be an official statement.”

Annotation: no time to add a word of comment

GANGNES: The newspaper editors were so eager to get the newspapers printed and sell them that they did not include any journalistic commentary or other textual commentary on the proclamation; they simply reprinted it.

Annotation: how ruthlessly the other contents of the paper had been hacked and taken out, to give this place

GANGNES: The other content they would have expected this newspaper to usually contain was left out so that it could accommodate the entire proclamation in large letters.

Annotation: the Strand

GANGNES: The Strand (technically just “Strand”) is a road just south of Trafalgar Square (see below) and north of the Thames; it runs along to the east and then becomes Fleet Street (see above). The Strand Magazine, which published the Sherlock Holmes stories, took its name from the fact that its first publishing house was located on Southampton Street, intersecting with Strand.

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 234: The Strand is “an important thoroughfare in central London. It runs parallel with the Thames (a very short distance away) and extends west from the Aldwych to Trafalgar Square. It is the location of fashionable stores, hotels, theatres, and office buildings.”

Annotation: hawkers

From DANAHAY 104: “people who sold in the streets by shouting out the name of their product”

Annotation: lemon yellow gloves

From MCCONNELL 197: these gloves were “highly fashionable, even somewhat dandified,” in the late 1890s

Annotation: hastily fastening maps of Surrey to the glass

GANGNES: The shopkeeper is displaying maps of Surrey in his store window because that is the region in which the Martian invasion is taking place (Woking and its surrounding villages are in Surrey). He likely hopes that advertising the map in his window will prompt customers to buy maps of Surrey from him so they can follow the action.

Annotation: Trafalgar Square

GANGNES: A famous square/plaza in central London, situated just to the south of the National Gallery. It features an iconic tower surrounded by four large lions. See the City of London’s official page on the Square.

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 234: “Central London’s most famous concourse, dedicated to England’s naval hero, Lord Nelson (and his victory at Trafalgar in 1805). In the center of the square there is a granite column, 145 feet tall, crowned with a statue of Nelson.”

Annotation: one of those old-fashioned tricycles with a small front wheel

From MCCONNELL 198: “the ‘Coventry’ tricycle, two wheels with a much larger supporting wheel to one side, current around 1876”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 213: sometimes nicknamed “Tuppence-farthing bikes” (because of their appearance)

Annotation: Sutton High Street on a Derby Day

GANGNES: The 1898 edition changes “Sutton” to “Epsom.”

From MCCONNELL 198: “The town of Epsom, south of London, is the annual site of the Derby.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 213: “teeming with people”

Annotation: Westminster to his apartments near Regent’s Park

GANGNES: Regent’s Park is a large public park in the northern part of central London. It lies north of the Thames, and it would likely take the narrator’s brother a little under an hour to walk there from the south, depending on where in Westminster he is and where his apartment is situated. Wells’s final home was near Regent’s Park.

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 232: Regent’s Park is “central London’s largest park, containing the London Zoo and the Botanical Gardens. It extends north from Marylebone Road to Primrose Hill; and west from Albany to Grand Union Canal.”

Annotation: Oxford Street

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 232: “a major shopping thoroughfare in central London, northeast of Hyde Park. It extends east from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road.”

Annotation: Marylebone Road

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 231: “a busy central-London thoroughfare, south of Regent’s Park, between Lisson Grove (on the west) and Baker Street (on the east).”

Annotation: promenaders

From DANAHAY 105: “people dressed in their best clothes out for a stroll”

Annotation: walking out

From MCCONNELL 199: courting

Annotation: scattered yellow gas-lamps

From MCCONNELL 199: “The first practical electric light had been developed by Thomas Edison in 1879, but the cities of Europe and America were still lit by gas at the time of the story.”

Annotation: small hours

GANGNES: early hours after midnight (“wee hours”)

Annotation: Albany Street barracks

From STOVER 141: “Army barracks in central London. In the event, soldiers quartered there are useless in facing unconventional Martian forces.”

Annotation: tocsin

From DANAHAY 106: alarm bell or warning

Annotation: part of Marylebone, and in the Westbourne Park district and St. Pancras, and westward and northward in Kilburn and St. John’s Wood and Hampstead, and eastward in Shoreditch and Highbury and Haggerston and Hoxton, and indeed through all the vastness of London from Ealing to East Ham

GANGNES: As is evident by this point, the entirety of The War of the Worlds is specifically situated in actual locations in and around London. This rapid-fire naming of specific streets and neighborhoods can be overwhelming to readers who are not familiar with London, but to those who are (as many of Wells’s readers would be), they underscore that this crisis is happening in a very real location. It also gives the narrative a breathless sense of momentum while maintaining the specificity of war reporting.

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 235: Westbourne Park is “a district in the London borough of Kensington, about two and a half miles from the city center.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: St. Pancras is “a London borough north of the Thames, two miles from the city center. It is the site of Euston and St. Pancras [train] stations, main transit points for northern England and Scotland.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 230: Kilburn is “a northwest London district between Hampstead (on the north) and Paddington (on the south), about three and a half miles northwest of central London.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: St. John’s Wood is “a middle-to-upper-class residential district northwest of Regent’s Park, in north London.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 229: Hampstead is “a hilly northeast London suburb, about five miles from the city center. From its highest point, on Hampstead Heath, it offers a magnificent vista of London.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: Shoreditch is “a working-class district in east London, about a mile from the city center.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 229: Haggerston is “a tough, working-class district in north London, north of Bethnal Green and east of Shoreditch.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 230: Hoxton is “a tough, working-class district in north London, between Shoreditch and Haggerston, about two miles northeast of Charing Cross in central London.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 229: Ealing is “a London borough in the county of Middlesex, some eight miles west of the city center.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 229: East Ham is a “London district in the county of Essex, about seven miles east of the city center.”

Annotation: stupid

GANGNES: In this case, not unintelligent, but rather, unaware or unknowing.

Annotation: parapets

GANGNES: In this instance, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “a low wall or barrier, often ornamental, placed at the edge of a platform, balcony, roof, etc. … to prevent people from falling”

Annotation: selling his papers for a shilling each

From MCCONNELL 201: “This was nearly fifty times the normal price of a newspaper.”

From DANAHAY 107: “The price of a newspaper [since earlier in the installment] has now risen from threepence to a shilling, or twelve pence.”

Annotation: poisonous vapour

From DANAHAY 107: “Wells’s vision of the use of poison gas, which was used as a weapon for the first time in World War I.”

GANGNES: Some illustrations of The War of the Worlds created during and soon after the First World War distinguish themselves by focusing on the black smoke instead of the heat ray. One such illustration is the book cover for a Danish edition published in 1941. Considered in the light of weapons used during the First and Second World Wars, images such as this one become particularly haunting.

Annotation: en masse

From MCCONNELL 202: “in a body, in a crowd”

From DANAHAY 107: “in one huge mass”

Annotation: ten pounds

From MCCONNELL 202: “equivalent of fifty dollars at the time”

Annotation: Ripley

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “a village in Surrey adjoining Send, two and a half miles southeast of Woking and five miles north-northeast of Guildford.”

Annotation: They communicated with each other by means of siren-like howls, running up and down the scale from one note to another.

From STOVER 145: Another evocation of the Prussian military model; their communications were superior to those of the French in the Franco-Prussian War.

Annotation: Saint George’s Hill

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “located about five miles north-northeast of Woking Station.”

Annotation: mettle

GANGNES: In this instance, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “a person’s spirit; courage, strength of character; vigour, spiritedness, vivacity”

Annotation: laid their guns

From MCCONNELL 203: “prepared to fire”

Annotation: ululation

From MCCONNELL 203: “crying or moaning”

From DANAHAY 109: “a high-pitched cry that goes up and down the scale”

Annotation: Ditton and Esher

GANGNES: villages to the northeast of Woking on the south bank of the Thames, roughly between Walton and Kingston

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 228: Ditton is “a small town in central Kent, about four miles northwest of Maidstone.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 229: Esher is “a small town in northeast Surrey, fifteen miles southwest of London.”

Annotation: Staines

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “a town in Middlesex, at the junction of the rivers Colne and Thames, eighteen miles west-southwest of central London.”

Annotation: at Staines, Hounslow, Ditton, Esher, Ockham

GANGNES: These villages are all to the north or east of Woking and would be suitably arranged to face the crescent of Martian fighting machines.

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 230: Hounslow is “a suburban area of Middlesex, about ten miles west of central London.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 231: Ockham is “a village in Surrey, about two and a half miles southeast of Woking and five miles northwest of Guildford.”

Annotation: make a greater Moscow

GANGNES: MCCONNELL and HUGHES AND GEDULD seem to be at odds here about the historical significance of this reference. STOVER (147) agrees with HUGHES AND GEDULD.

From MCCONNELL 206: “From September 2 to October 7, 1812, the French Army of Napoleon occupied Moscow, burning and destroying more than three-fourths of the city. They were finally compelled to retreat, however, due to Russian guerrilla resistance and the impossibility of acquiring adequate provisions.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 213: “To frustrate the Martians by destroying their major objective, London, as the Russians did to Napoleon in 1812 by setting fire to Moscow.”

Annotation: heavy minute guns

From MCCONNELL 206: “guns designed to fire at intervals of one minute”

Annotation: kopjes

From STOVER 148: “Small hills of South African locution made familiar to English readers in accounts of the Boer War, from behind which Boer guerrillas sniped on English troops. Although the war did not officially break out until 1899, the landscape of the coming conflict was reported by [Rudyard] Kipling.”

Annotation: earthly artillery

GANGNES: HUGHES AND GEDULD (213) observe that this is likely a reference to Satan’s “infernal artillery” in Milton’s Paradise Lost, rather than a “celestial artillery” (STOVER 148 uses this term as well) as an inverse of “earthly artillery.” In the context of a Martian invasion, however, “celestial” in opposition to “infernal” becomes complicated; in a narrative like Milton’s, it would refer to Heaven, whereas in the context of Wells, it would be “the heavens,” i.e., space. The Martians are far from benevolent angels; they are, perhaps, “avenging angels,” or akin to infernal beings, despite being from a neighboring planet. In the context of this novel, might we imagine a new kind of artillery: an “alien artillery”?

Annotation: (To be continued next month.)

GANGNES: In the serialized version of the novel, Chapter V was divided in half between installments 5 and 6. This imposed a kind of “false cliffhanger” that was often seen in Victorian serialized fiction because periodicals had a set number of pages per issue (sometimes with a little wiggle room) to devote to an installment of a serialized work.

This “false cliffhanger” would have affected a Victorian reader’s sense of pacing and the feeling of suspense caused by the abrupt end of the installment in the middle of an intense battle. This a “to be continued” moment that was created by serialization rather than an author’s intended pacing