The War of the Worlds: Pearson’s Magazine Installment 6 Annotations
by Madeline B. Gangnes
This installment comprises the text that is roughly comparable to Book I (“The Coming of the Martians”), part of XV and the beginning of XVII of the 1898 collected edition and subsequent version.
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: And here I come upon the most obscure of all the problems that centre about the Martians, the riddle of the Black Gas.
GANGNES: The 1898 volume replaces this sentence with “Now at the time we could not understand these things, but later I was to learn the meaning of these ominous kopjes that gathered in the twilight. The fact that Chapter XV is not divided in the volume allows for a smoother transition. See text comparison page.
Annotation: cumulus cloud
From MCCONNELL 207: “A tall, dense, puffy cloud. Many readers during the First World War viewed this as a forecast of the use of poison gas.”
Annotation: carbonic acid gas
From MCCONNELL 207: carbon dioxide
From STOVER 149: carbon dioxide is heavier than air; it is emitted from erupting volcanoes into the low-lying areas around them
GANGNES: The 1898 volume adds this sentence: “Save that an unknown element giving a group of four lines in the blue of the spectrum is concerned, we are all still entirely ignorant of the nature of this substance.” See text comparison page. HUGHES AND GEDULD (214) note that the addition creates an inconsistency; the epilogue describes “three lines in the green.”
Annotation: Street Chobham
GANGNES: Should be “Street Cobham.” This is an error that was likely made in the typesetting process for Pearson’s, as it does not appear in other versions. The mix-up is understandable, especially as the narrator has spoken so often of Chobham and Chobham Road.
HUGHES AND GEDULD (119) point out that Street Chobham (with an H) is “well west of the Martians’ line of march.”
GANGNES: In this case, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the door to “subsidiary building in the grounds of or adjoining a house, as a barn, shed, etc.”
GANGNES: village on the north bank of the Thames, slightly northwest of Ditton between Walton and Kingston
Annotation: Bushey Park
From DANAHAY 113: large park; part of Greater London
GANGNES: now spelled “Bushy Park”; in Hampton
Annotation: fitful cannonade
From DANAHAY 113: a heavy artillery fire
Annotation: smoke out a wasp’s nest
GANGNES: Smoke suffocates wasps; this practice is still done today, often with smoke-like products that can be purchased for this purpose.
Annotation: torpedo boats and destroyers
From MCCONNELL 210: “The first British destroyer, the Havoc, was commissioned in 1893. The development of steam power in the second half of the century had revolutionized the concept of naval warfare, and put in jeopardy Britain’s traditional bulwark of defense, the Royal Navy. In the growing war-fever at the end of the century, much concern was generated around what seemed to be the increased power of European navies, especially the French, and the Naval Defense Act of 1889 laid down rules for the refurbishing of the Navy similar to those which had earlier attempted to reinvigorate the Army.”
From DANAHAY 114: rapid-fire artillery (like minute-guns)
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 230: “a metropolitan borough of London, on the south bank of the Thames. Waterloo Station, key exit point for southwest England, is located in this borough.”
Annotation: My brother has described the flight of the people through Chipping Barnet very vividly. And the account of his Monday morning may serve to give an idea how it was with the individuals in that pouring multitude. He himself was no longer alone when he came to Chipping Barnet.
GANGNES: Cut from the 1898 volume; perhaps it was thought to be redundant. See text comparison page.
Annotation: Chipping Barnet
GANGNES: a village about 12 miles to the north of central London; Londoners are fleeing north from the Martians
Annotation: Chalk Farm
GANGNES: area of London on the north side of the Thames; north of the British Museum and on the way north to Haverstock Hill, where the narrator’s brother goes next
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 228: In the 1890s [Chalk Farm Station] was a busy station on the London and North-Western Railway (terminus Euston), at the junction of Adelaide Road and Haverstock Hill, immediately north of Primrose Hill in central London.”
Annotation: crushing the driver against his furnace
GANGNES: which is to say, cause the engine driver harm or even death by pushing him into the coal furnace that fuels the steam for the engine
Annotation: the sack of a cycle shop
From DANAHAY 116: “sack”=looting
GANGNES: The narrator’s brother is one of the first to arrive during the process of looting a bicycle shop, which allows him to steal a bicycle before they are all taken.
Annotation: Haverstock Hill
GANGNES: the northbound road through Chalk Farm
Annotation: Belsize Road
GANGNES: road to the west from Chalk Farm; the narrator’s brother decides to travel west instead of north because the Haverstock Hill road is blocked
Annotation: So he got out of the fury of the panic
GANGNES: The text was significantly revised for the 1898 volume from this point through “…in time to save them”; Wells seems to have spent a great deal of effort grappling with how to describe the havoc and conflict of the flight from London. See text comparison page.
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 229: “a suburban area of greater London, in Middlesex, about seven miles northwest of the city center.”
GANGNES: north of Chalk Farm (on the narrator’s brother’s path)
GANGNES: in this case, someone who is fleeing from danger; see Oxford English Dictionary
Annotation: motor cars
From STOVER 154-5: London’s first motor exhibition was in 1895; legislation kept motorcars’ speed slower than horses (and horse-drawn carts/carriages) and bicycles. In 1903 the maximum speed for motorcars was raised from two miles per hour to twenty.
Annotation: hansom cabs
From MCCONNELL 212: a one-horse, two-wheeled cab for two passengers with the driver seated above and behind the cab
From DANAHAY 116: “these were frequently for hire on the streets of London like taxis”
Annotation: Saint Albans
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “a town in south-central Hertford, about twenty miles north-northwest of central London”
GANGNES: about 11-12 miles north of Edgware (relevant to narrator’s brother’s journey)
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 228: “a small town in central Essex, about twenty-five miles east-northeast of London”
GANGNES: about 38 miles east of Edgware (on narrator’s brother’s journey)
Annotation: pony chaise
DANAHAY 117: small carriage light enough for one pony to pull
From DANAHAY 117: related to boxing
GANGNES: Corrected to “companion” in 1898 volume. See text comparison page.
From DANAHAY 118: unconscious
Annotation: Such extraordinary introductions were by no means uncommon in those strange and wonderful days. These women had no idea where to go.
GANGNES: Cut from the 1898 volume. See text comparison page.
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “a small town in Middlesex, about nine miles northwest of the city center. It is now part of greater London but was a rural area in the 1890s.”
GANGNES: about 3 miles west of Edgware
GANGNES: village about 3.5 miles west of Stanmore
Annotation: New Barnet
GANGNES: village about 5 miles northeast of Edgware
Annotation: “What is that murmur?” asked the stouter woman suddenly. They all listened and heard a sound like the droning of wheels in a distant factory, a murmurous sound, rising and falling. “If one did not know this was Middlesex,” said my brother, “we might take that for the sound of the sea.” “Do you think George can possibly find us here?” asked the slender woman abruptly. “The man’s wife was for returning to their house, but my brother urged a hundred
GANGNES: This text was cut, with the rest of the last sentence, from the 1898 volume, and replaced with a few new sentences that streamline the scene. See text comparison page.
Annotation: five pound note
From MCCONNELL 215: one pound = five dollars
Annotation: Essex towards Harwich
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 229: Essex is “a county of southeast England bordered by Cambridge and Suffolk (on the north), the river Thames (on the south), London (on the southwest), and the North Sea, Middlesex, and Hertford (on the east).”
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 230: Harwich is “a North Sea port in northeast Essex, at the confluence of the rivers Stout and Orwell, about seventy miles northeast of London.”
GANGNES: Essex is 32-33 miles east of New Barnet; essentially same area as Chelmsford (where the narrator’s brother’s friends live).
Annotation: That sound
GANGNES: The next two paragraphs are cut from the 1898 volume, with smaller sentences and fragments added and cut through the end of page 355. Again Wells takes great care over the flow of this scene. See text comparison page.
Annotation: Miss Elphinstone
From STOVER 158: This heroic character is likely named after Montstuart Elphinstone (died 1859), who explored the dangerous wilds of Afghanistan on behalf of the British Raj. Wells’s readers would have been familiar with his feats.
Annotation: North Road
GANGNES: a road that runs directly north from Barnet Road, leading out of Barnet and far to the north
Annotation: East End factory girls
From MCCONNELL 216: “The East End of London, until well into the 1930s, was a notorious working-class slum.”
From DANAHAY 120: a grating/grinding sound
Annotation: There were sad, haggard women rushing by, well dressed, with children that cried and stumbled, their dainty clothes smothered in dust, their weary faces smeared with tears. With many of those came men, sometimes helpful, sometimes lowering and savage. Fighting side by side with them pushed some weary street outcast in faded black rags, wide-eyed, loud-voiced, and foul-mouthed. There were sturdy workmen thrusting their way along, wretched unkempt men clothed like clerks or shopmen, struggling spasmodically, a wounded soldier my brother noticed, men dressed in the clothes of railway porters, one wretched creature in a nightshirt with a coat thrown over it.
GANGNES: In the 1898 volume, this section is moved down and inserted before “But varied as its composition was…” See text comparison page.
GANGNES: according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “to frown, scowl; to look angry or sullen”
Annotation: horses’ bits
From DANAHAY 122: a bit is a piece of metal that fits in a horse’s mouth and forms part of the reins
GANGNES: Note that MCCONNELL, HUGHES AND GEDULD, and STOVER do not completely agree on their explanations of this reference.
From MCCONNELL 218: In the Church of England, the Vestry is not just the room in a church where vestments are stored; it is also committee of parishioners who arrange local matters like streetcleaning.
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 214: “Vestry here is not used in its usual ecclesiastical sense but refers to a committee of citizens ‘vested’ with the task of arranging for such basic local services as health and food inspection and garbage disposal. St. Pancras (then a London borough) is located northwest of the City of London.”
From STOVER 161: “A public-health committee of that city district responsible for its garbage removal–a task now beyond its capacity as all public services are overwhelmed.”
Annotation: brewer’s dray
From DANAHAY 122: large cart breweries used to deliver beer
From DANAHAY 122: “The Italian scientist Luigi Galvani (1737-98) passed electricity through dead animal tissue to make it move; this kind of involuntary movement became known as galvanism.”
Annotation: “What does it all mean?” whispered Miss Elphinstone. “I don’t know,” said my brother. “But this poor child is dropping with fear and fatigue.”
GANGNES: Cut from the 1898 volume. See text comparison page.
Annotation: privet hedge
From MCCONNELL 220: European evergreen with white flowers
Annotation: Lord Garrick
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 215: “Garrick” has not been traced to a real person.
Annotation: Chief Justice
GANGNES: Note that MCCONNELL disagrees with HUGHES AND GEDULD and STOVER here about the importance of this title.
From MCCONNELL 220: “In England, the presiding judge of any court with several members.”
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 215: “The nearest American equivalent [of “Chief Justice” here] (although there are many differences in the two offices) would be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”
From STOVER: “The Lord Chief Justice of England is equivalent to the Chief Justice of the United States.”
From DANAHAY 124: spilled out
From MCCONNELL 220: gold coins worth two pounds, eighteen shillings (each)
From DANAHAY 124: gold coins worth two pounds each (“the man has a lot of heavy money in his bag”)
GANGNES: Note that MCCONNELL’s and DANAHAY’s respective accounts of a sovereign’s worth are not the same as one another or as HUGHES AND GEDULD’s (and STOVER’s) below.
Annotation: The Jew
GANGNES: The Antisemitism embodied in this figure is clear even when “Jew” is changed to “man” in the 1898 volume and subsequent editions (see the text comparison page). As STOVER (111) observes, the caricature of a greedy “eagle-faced man” would have been recognizable to Victorian readers even with the explicit word “Jew” removed.
Annotation: his limbs lay limp and dead
GANGNES: The 1898 volume changes this to “his lower limbs lay limp and dead”; this clarifies why the man is able to grasp for his money even though his back is broken. See text comparison page.
From HUGHES AND GEDULD: “refers to sovereigns: gold coins worth one English pound each.”
GANGNES: Note that HUGHES AND GEDULD’s account of a sovereign’s worth is not the same as MCCONNELL’s or DANAHAY’s above. STOVER (157) agrees with HUGHES AND GEDULD.
Annotation: As they passed the bend in the lane
GANGNES: From this point through the end of the installment, very significant changes were made between the serialized version and the 1898 volume. Apart from a large cut (see below), the final four large paragraphs were moved to the beginning of the next chapter (XVII). This difference changes the narrative’s pacing and moments of suspense. See text comparison page.
Annotation: So my brother describes one striking phase of the great flight out of London on the morning of Monday. So vividly did that scene at the corner of the lane impress him, so vividly did he describe it, that I can now see the details of it almost as distinctly as if I had been present at the time. I wish I had the skill to give the reader the effect of his description. And that was just one drop of the flow of the panic taken and magnified.
GANGNES: Cut from the 1898 volume; perhaps it was thought to be redundant, especially with the change in chapter division. See note above and text comparison page.
Annotation: Waltham Abbey
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 234: “a small town on the river Lea, in southwest Essex, bordering Epping Forest. In the 1890s there was an old gunpowder factory in the area.”
GANGNES: about 15 miles to the east and slightly north of Edgware
Annotation: Southend and Shoeburyness
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “Fully named Southend-on-Sea. A resort town in southeast Essex at the mouth of the Thames, thirty-three miles east of central London.”
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “Shoebury or Shoeburyness [is] a coastal town at the mouth of the Thames, just east of Southend and thirty-eight miles east of London.”
GANGNES: Southend is about 45 miles directly east of Edgware; Shoeburyness is just slightly east of that along the coast.
Annotation: Deal and Broadstairs
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 228: Deal is “a resort town in Eastern Kent, about seven miles from Dover and sixty-eight miles east-southeast of central London.”
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 227: Broadstairs is “a coastal town in northeast Kent, on the English Channel, about seventy miles east-southeast of central London.”
GANGNES: Deal is slightly south of Broadstairs.
From MCCONNELL 223: “[Hot-air] Ballooning began in the late eighteenth century. It was employed for military purposes in the American Civil War, and many prophecies of the late nineteenth century envisaged the wartime use of balloons for both reconnaissance and bombardment.”
Annotation: Goths and Huns
From MCCONNELL 224: “The Goths were a Teutonic people who invaded and settled in the Roman Empire between the third and fifth centuries A.D. The Huns, an Asiatic people, invaded and pillaged the Empire during the fifth century A.D.”
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 215: “The Goths, a Germanic tribe, invaded Rome’s Eastern and Western Empires during the third through the fifth century. The Huns, a nomadic Asian people, under their leader Atilla, invaded and ravaged much of Europe during the fifth century.”
Annotation: six million people
GANGNES: In the Pearson’s Chapter XIV, the number of Londoners is written as “five million”; it is correct here, and Chapter XIV was changed in the volume so that both would read “six million.”
From MCCONNELL 224: extensions
From DANAHAY 127: new branches of “black smoke”
From DANAHAY 127: blob
GANGNES: gunpowder for cannons and other artillery
Annotation: cut every telegraph
GANGNES: which is to say, cut the telegraph wires to make distance communication impossible
Annotation: Just after midnight the fifth cylinder fell, green and livid, crushing a house, as I shall presently tell in fuller detail, beside the road between Richmond and Barnes. The fifth cylinder–and there were five more yet to come!
GANGNES: Cut from the 1898 version. Likely the extent to which the break between chapters XVI and XVII changed the flow of the narrative made this installment ending redundant. It works very effectively in the serial as a suspense-building hint at the next part of the narrative, but is perhaps not necessary in a collected volume. See text comparison page.