Installment 7 Annotations Transcript

The War of the Worlds: Pearson’s Magazine Installment 7 Annotations

by Madeline B. Gangnes

This installment comprises the text that is roughly comparable to Book I (“The Coming of the Martians”), part of Chapter XVII and Chapter I Book II (“London Under the Martians”) 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.


GANGNES: The battle of the Thunder Child is one of the most action-packed scenes in the novel. It has been a favored scene for many adaptations and illustrations, including the album cover for Jeff Wayne’s musical adaptation (see Installment 1 annotations).

More information:

Annotation: To a balloonist

GANGNES: From this point to the end of the paragraph was cut for the 1898 edition. As the notes on Installment 6 indicate, a significant portion of the end of Installment 6 was moved to the next chapter, changing the flow and creation of suspense as the narrative moves toward what would become the split between Books I and II. See text comparison page.

Annotation: New River

GANGNES: The New River is actually an aqueduct created in the 1600s, hence the fact that is a source of drinking water here. See “The New River” on the History of London website.

Annotation: no properly organised news distribution

GANGNES: This is another instance of the unreliability of the press during a time of crisis, especially when the government is in disarray. There is a tension throughout the novel of the citizens’ hunger for official news–to the point where they will pay exorbitant prices for a newspaper–and the uselessness of the scraps of information they receive.

Annotation: Pool of London

From MCCONNELL 225: “the artificially enlarged shipping area of the Thames”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 232: “Strictly speaking this refers to the stretch of the river Thames between London Bridge (on the west) and Cuckold’s Point (on the east), near West India Dock. But more popularly it has come to signify the area of London below (i.e., east of) London Bridge. Fairly large sea-going vessels have access to the port of London up to this part of the Thames.”

Annotation: Blackfriars Bridge. At that the Pool became a scene of mad confusion, fighting and collision, and for some time a multitude of boats and barges jammed in the northern arch of the Tower Bridge

GANGNES: Blackfriars Bridge and Tower Bridge are two large bridges spanning the Thames from north to south in the eastern part of London. Today, the Millennium Bridge (a pedestrian bridge) and Southwark Bridge lie between them, but Southwark Bridge was not opened until 1921, and the Millennium Bridge 2000 (hence the name). These are four of the five Thames bridges overseen today by the London City Corporation. See the City of London site’s page on bridges.

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 227: Blackfriars Bridge is “a bridge in central London between Waterloo Bridge and Southwark Bridge. It spans the Thames from Queen Victoria Street (on the north) to Southwark Street (on the south).

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 234: Tower Bridge is “London’s most famous bridge. It opens periodically to admit the passage of shipping. It spans the Thames between the Tower of London (on the north) and the district of Bermondsey (on the south).”

Annotation: lightermen

From MCCONNELL 225: “crewmembers of a lighter, or unpowered barge used to unload cargo ships in harbor”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 215: “sailors on or owners of lighters or barges (boats used in the ‘lightening,’ or unloading, of large ships)”

Annotation: Limehouse

GANGNES: area of London east of Southwark Bridge and Tower Bridge (and the Tower of London), on the north bank of the Thames

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 230: “a tough, working-class district in London’s East End. It is north of Commercial Road and East India Dock Road, about five miles east of Charing Cross.”

Annotation: On Monday night came the sixth star, and it fell at Wimbledon.

GANGNES: Due to the shifting around of the narrative, this sentence is changed in the 1898 edition to: “Of the falling of the fifth cylinder I have presently to tell. The sixth star fell at Wimbledon.” See text comparison page. HUGHES AND GEDULD (215) assert that this is “a slip”; the sixth and seventh cylinders “must fall on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.” See below note on “Fifth Cylinder” that complicates matters further.

Annotation: Colchester

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 228: “a town in northeast Sussex, on the river Colne, about seventy miles northeast of central London”

GANGNES: Colchester is near the east coast of England, ~25 miles northeast of Chelmsford.

Annotation: Highgate and even it was said at Neasden

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 230: Highgate is “a district of north London, on a hill below Hampstead Heath. One of the most picturesque parts of London, it was (in the 1890s) and still is an area of many fine houses.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 231: Neasden is “a northwest suburb of greater London, about six miles from the city center. It is now heavily residential but it was quite rural in the 1890s.”

GANGNES: Highgate is to the north and slightly east of Chalk Farm; Neasden is to the northwest of Chalk Farm.

Annotation: Birmingham

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 227: “England’s second largest city, in northwest Warwick, about 110 miles northwest of London.”

Annotation: used in automatic mines across the Midland counties

From MCCONNELL 226: “‘Automatic mines’ are mines set to detonate on contact with any moving object; they are so called to distinguish them from mines exploded by electric current from shore. … The mines are set to block the expected advance of the Martians into the counties (Leicester, Warwick, Nottinghamshire, etc.) in the middle of England.”

Annotation: Midland Railway Company

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 215: “The Midland Railway Company provided public transportation to such Midlands cities as Nottingham, Leicester, Manchester, and Leeds. Its London terminus was St. Pancras Station.”

Annotation: Chipping Ongar

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 228: “a small town in west Essex about sixteen miles north-northeast of London”

GANGNES: Chipping Ongar is to the east and slightly north of Edgware, about two-thirds of the way from Edgware to Chelmsford (relevant to the narrator’s brother’s journey).

Annotation: Primrose Hill

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 232: “an eminence north of Regent’s Park, with the London Zoo below. It commands an extensive view of London.”

GANGNES: Primrose Hill is just south of Chalk Farm.

Annotation: Committee of Public Supply

From STOVER 169: “A vigilante group whose name echoes that of the Committee of Public Safety formed under Robespierre during the French Revolution.”

Annotation: Waltham Abbey Powder Mills

GANGNES: Waltham Abbey is ~15 miles north of the London city center. This is where the Royal Gunpowder Mills are located. Gunpowder production began there in the 1660s, and by the nineteenth century the mill was taking advantage of steam power to supply explosives to the British Navy and Army. The destruction of this site, then, is a huge blow to the British defense against the Martians; in trying to destroy one of the fighting machines, the British destroy a valuable supply of explosives for their military.

More information:

Annotation: Tillingham

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 234: “a small town in Essex, about four miles west of the North Sea and sixty-five miles northeast of central London.”

GANGNES: Tillingham is north of Foulness and northeast of Southend.

Annotation: Harwich, and Walton, and Clacton, and afterwards to Foulness and Shoebury

GANGNES: villages on the eastern coast of England; the sailors are traveling from north to south along the coast

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 228: Clacton (officially Clacton-on-Sea) is “a resort town on the North Sea, about eighty miles northeast of London.”

Annotation: the Naze

From MCCONNELL 227: “a promontory, north of London (in the county of Essex), extending into the North Sea”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 230: “a promontory on the North Sea coast of Essex, about four miles south of the seaport of Harwich.”

Annotation: fishing-smacks

From MCCONNELL 232: smacks are “single-masted, light sailing vessels used as tenders for warships”

Annotation: colliers

From MCCONNELL 227: “ships carrying coal”

Annotation: Southampton

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “a major seaport in south Hampshire, about seventy miles southwest of London”

Annotation: Hamburg

GANGNES: port city in Germany

Annotation: Blackwater

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 227: “a river about forty miles long in the south of England. It flows from Saffron Walden to Mersea Island, where it enters the North Sea.”

GANGNES: wide river flowing in from the east coast of England, north of Foulness and Southend; Maldon (below) lies at the western point where it narrows

Annotation: chaffering

From MCCONNELL 227: haggling

Annotation: ram

From MCCONNELL 228: “a warship with a heavy iron beak or prow for penetrating the hull of an enemy”

Annotation: Channel Fleet

GANGNES: “a fleet of the Royal Navy detailed for service in the English Channel. … In 1909 the Channel Fleet became the 2nd Division of the Home Fleet.” (Oxford English Dictionary).

Annotation: Thames estuary

From MCCONNELL 228: the point at which the river meets the sea’s tide

Annotation: thirty-six pounds

From MCCONNELL 228: at the time, ~$180

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 215: at least ten times the usual amount

Annotation: Ostend

From MCCONNELL 228: seaport in NW Belgium

Annotation: bulwarks

From MCCONNELL 229: “walls above the main deck to protect the passengers from wind and driving rain”

Annotation: the Crouch

From MCCONNELL 229: “The River Crouch, south of the Naze, meets the North Sea at Foulness Point.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 228: “a river in Essex about twenty-four miles long. It flows from Brentwood to Foulness point, where it enters the North Sea.”

Annotation: douche

From MCCONNELL 230: a spray of water

Annotation: leviathan

From MCCONNELL 230: “gigantic sea beast of Biblical legend”

GANGNES: See various Biblical references and Wikipedia article on the Leviathan.

Annotation: larboard

From MCCONNELL 231: port/left

Annotation: camera-like generator

GANGNES: Again we see a comparison of Martian technology (especially the Heat Ray) to cameras and photography.

Annotation: matchwood

GANGNES: In this case, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “very small pieces or splinters of wood.”

Annotation: something flat and broad and very large

From DANAHAY 134: “Flight was still a dream when Wells wrote this, and so he is vague about how exactly the Martians’ flying machines operate.”

Annotation: rained down darkness upon the land

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 216: echoes several biblical passages: 1) Genesis 19:24 (“Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven”); 2) Exodus 10:22 (“And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.”); 3) Matthew 27:45 (“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.”).


GANGNES: In the 1898 edition, this is the point where the novel is split into two books. Book II is called “Earth Under the Martians,” and this chapter becomes Chapter I of Book II: “Under Foot.”

Annotation: My inexpertness as a story writer

GANGNES: In the 1898 edition, nearly the entirety of the text from this point through “…heels of fact” (the beginning of page 454) is cut and replaced by a new paragraph and a half. See text comparison page.

Annotation: Even in writing fiction I expect–since it is the commonest failure–it is hard to make each circumstance flow from its predecessors in a natural fashion, and to do so with the huge history I am sketching is certainly quite beyond my ability.

GANGNES: This section is part of a major cut to the chapter that occurred when the novel was split into two parts (as discussed above). In the serialized version of the text, the novel’s narrator spends much more time reflecting on his own feelings and responses, as well as the storytelling process, than in the volume. Here Wells makes explicitly clear the narrator’s unreliability (which is implicit in other parts of the text). Moreover, there is a strange critique of “romanticized” fiction that sets fiction up against this narrator’s journalistic account of the invasion (which, of course, is fiction as well). The narrator’s appeals to authority here may come off as prematurely defensive and disruptive of the narrative flow. It seems that Wells ultimately decided they would not be a strong start to Book II of the volume. See text comparison page.

Annotation: I was for staying in the village indefinitely, for there we had provisions for weeks, if necessary, and only the remotest chance of capture, but the curate was insistent, and I could not find it in me to stop alone. So, all being quiet throughout the afternoon, we started along

GANGNES: Cut in the 1898 version and replaced by a longer section. See text comparison page.

Annotation: Pompeii

From MCCONNELL 236: “the Roman city on the Bay of Naples, completely buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 216: “The eruption of Mount Vesuvius near Naples on August 24, A.D. 79 buried the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum under thousands of tons of volcanic ash and lava, killing some 20,000 inhabitants.”

From DANAHAY 136: “The Roman city of Pompeii was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 79 A.D. Archaeologists found citizens of Pompeii who had been overcome by the ash from the eruption preserved where they had fallen.”

More information:

Annotation: it seemed quite deserted save for a prowling muzzled dog or so

GANGNES: This section was significantly revised for the 1898 version. Most notably, in the Pearson’s version Twickenham is deserted, whereas in the 1898 version the narrator and curate cross paths with several other people who are fleeing, and there is more damage in the town. This creates quite a different effect: the serial evokes the haunting quality of a ghost town; the volume expresses an environment of urgency and destruction. See text comparison page.

Annotation: Barnes

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 227: “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”

Annotation: Sheen

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “a district of greater London south of the Thames, between Richmond (on the west) and Roehampton (on the east), about eight miles west of central London”

GANGNES: east of Twickenham, north of Richmond, west of Barnes, and south of Chiswick; essentially the same area as Mortlake

Annotation: semi-detached villa

From MCCONNELL 238: “a still-common English term for a suburban dwelling house”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 216: “a fashionable name for a kind of small suburban house–in this case a two-family structure–popularly considered to be a ‘better class’ of dwelling”

GANGNES: Americans might call this kind of house a high-end “duplex,” in that the structure itself is the size of a large house, but there are two “homes” within it, separated by a long dividing wall. Many semi-detached houses have two floors.

Annotation: Mortlake

GANGNES: area of London on the south bank of the Thames, east of Twickenham, north of Richmond, and south of Chiswick; essentially the same area as Sheen

Annotation: concussion

GANGNES: explosion

Annotation: insensible

GANGNES: unconscious

Annotation: The fifth cylinder, the fifth shot from Mars

GANGNES: See notes below from MCCONNELL and HUGHES AND GEDULD about a possible inconsistency or oversight in the order of the cylinder landings. This makes mapping them even more complicated.

Annotation: Our situation was so strange and dangerous

GANGNES: A great deal of text here was shifted around and significantly revised. See text comparison page.

Annotation: aperture

GANGNES: In this case, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “An opening, an open space between portions of solid matter; a gap, cleft, chasm, or hole.”

Annotation: coloured supplements

From MCCONNELL 240: “Popular newspapers frequently issued these supplements, cheap and crude reproductions, ‘suitable for framing,’ of famous works of art or stirring historical scenes; they decorated the homes of many lower middle class families.”

Annotation: Fifth Cylinder

GANGNES: MCCONNELL 240 identifies this as a “contradiction. The fourth start had fallen late Sunday night, north of where the narrator and the curate are hiding…, and the narrator only hears of it later, from his brother. So it is impossible for him to know, at the time, that this is the fifth star; he should think it is the fourth.” A case could be made, however, that the narrator is writing this in retrospect, and therefore could be imposing his later knowledge of which cylinder it is onto his impressions at the time.

HUGHES AND GEDULD further complicate the matter by responding to MCCONNELL: “But the first three cylinders fell one after the other late on the nights of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Doubtless the narrator simply assumes that the fourth fell ‘late Sunday night’ and that this one (late Monday night) is the fifth. … The real trouble is that–far from being unaware of the fourth cylinder–the narrator should be only too well acquainted with it. It fell the previous night, into Bushey Park, which he and the curate have just traversed. But Wells has forgetfully caused the park to contain nothing more remarkable than ‘the deer going to and fro under the chestnuts.’“

Annotation: scullery

From MCCONNELL 241: “room in which food is cleaned or cut before being taken to the kitchen for cooking; hence the most malodorous and usually the dirtiest room of the house”