Installment 9 Annotations Transcript

The War of the Worlds: Pearson’s Magazine Installment 9 Annotations

by Madeline B. Gangnes

This installment comprises the text that is roughly comparable to Book II (“London Under the Martians”), Chapter VIII through Chapter X (“The Epilogue”) 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.


GANGNES: For the 1898 volume, Wells inserted a new chapter–”The Man on Putney Hill”–just before this point in the text. This chapter features a reunion between the narrator and the artilleryman he met in Woking in Installment 3. In this new chapter, the artilleryman shares his grandiose plans for a new human civilization that would be rebuilt in the water mains beneath London, so that even when the Martians take over, Britons can preserve their culture and thrive there until they are ready to rise up against the Martians. It soon becomes clear to the narrator that the artilleryman has gone mad: the “gulf between his dreams and his powers” is insurmountable. See the 1898 version of the text in facsimile and the Project Gutenberg transcription.

Annotation: The further I penetrated into London

GANGNES: In addition to the new chapter (“The Man on Putney Hill”), five paragraphs of text were added here in the 1898 volume as the beginning of a new chapter (Book II, Ch. VIII) called “Dead London.” See text comparison page. The effect of these additions is that the narrator’s experience wandering through an empty London is drawn out and given more narrative room to breathe; in the Pearson’s version the narrator encounters the dying Martians much more quickly after his arrival in London.

Annotation: Somehow I felt that this was not the end.

GANGNES: This line and “That, at any rate, would be completion.” (below) were cut from the 1898 volume. Perhaps Wells decided that less of the narrator’s internal commentary on his feelings would be more effective. See text comparison page.

Annotation: South Kensington

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “the sector of the west London borough of Kensington due south of Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. It is the home of man of London’s great museums.”

Annotation: Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla

From STOVER 237: “The ‘ulla, ulla’ of the last of [the Martians] echoes the Irish Gol, or Ullaloo, a lamentation over the dead. It has classical references in Virgil (Magnoque ululante tumulta) and in Ovid (Ululatibus omne / Implevere nemus), as in the title of E.A. Poe’s Ballad ‘Ulalume’.”

Annotation: Exhibition Road

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 229: “a spacious thoroughfare in South Kensington, London. Location of the Imperial College of Science, formerly the Normal School of Science (part of the University of London), where Wells studied under Thomas Henry Huxley.”

Annotation: the Serpentine

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “an artificial lake in Kensington Gardens, used for boating”

Annotation: Baker Street

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 227: “an important thoroughfare in London’s West End area. The (fictitious) home of Sherlock Holmes was at 221B Baker Street.”

GANGNES: The majority of the Sherlock Holmes stories, like The War of the Worlds, were serialized in a popular general-interest periodical–in this case, The Strand Magazine. Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Holmes stories, was active around the same time as Wells, and they published in some of the same periodicals.

More information:

Annotation: lying in state, and in its black shroud

GANGNES: To “lie in state” is “the tradition in which the body of a dead official is placed in a state building, either outside or inside a coffin, to allow the public to pay their respects” (Wikipedia). The “black shroud” here refers metaphorically to a burial shroud or a shroud worn by mourners. Here, then, Wells compares the entire city of London and its inhabitants as corpses, and the black smoke (and resulting black dust) as its burial covering.

Annotation: thought of the poisons in the chemists’ shops, of the liquors the wine merchants stored

GANGNES: These are potential ways to kill oneself and join the rest of London, the narrator considers.

Annotation: the two sodden creatures of despair

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 223: “The drunken man who is black as a sweep and the dead woman with the magnum of champagne. Wells added the statement that she is dead in revising the serial and evidently forgot to drop the mention of her here.”

Annotation: We were the last of men.

Cut from the 1898 volume. See text comparison page.

Annotation: Marble Arch

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 231: “a triumphal stone arch (designed in 1828 by John Nash) in central London, at the northeast corner of Hyde Park”

Annotation: putrescent

From MCCONNELL 286: “growing rotten or decayed”

From DANAHAY 179: rotting

Annotation: Samson

From MCCONNELL 286: “The incredibly strong, unruly hero of Jewish folklore whose exploits are celebrated in Judges 13:116:31. Taken prisoner by the Philistines, he destroyed himself and them by pulling down the walls of their palace.”

Annotation: overwhelmed in its overthrow

GANGNES: Lost its balance or similar and fell.

Annotation: Zoological Gardens

GANGNES: Now better known as the London Zoo. The Zoological Society of London established the Zoological Gardens in 1828. For excerpts from primary and secondary accounts, see Lee Jackson, “Victorian London – Entertainment and Recreation – Zoo’s and Menageries – London Zoo / Zoological Gardens.”

Annotation: Regent’s Canal

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 232: “one of London’s key commercial waterways. It begins at the Commercial Docks, Limehouse (east London), runs north to Victoria Park, traverses much of north London, and then links up with the Paddington Canal, which belongs to a network of canals that extend as far north as Liverpool.”

Annotation: black. Night

GANGNES: In the 1898 volume, the following line is added between these two sentences: “All about me the red weed clambered among the ruins, writing to get above me in the dimness.” The addition perhaps adds a sense of being lost in an alien landscape rather than a familiar city; the Martians and their flora have not just destroyed London; they have taken over it. See text comparison page.

Annotation: The windows in the white houses were like the eye-sockets of skulls.

GANGNES: In his illustrations for the 1906 limited-edition Belgian volume, Henrique Alvim Correa sometimes takes a fantastical/magic-realist approach to his depictions, literalizing metaphors and making the mundane strange. In this case, Correa literally draws the narrator’s conception of London’s buildings resembling skulls.

Annotation: temerity

From DANAHAY 180: recklessness

Annotation: Harrow Road

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 229: “a main thoroughfare of northwest London, north of Hammersmith and south of Willesden”

Annotation: St. Edmund’s Terrace

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “a street in central London, between Regent’s Park (on the south) and Primrose Hill (on the north)

Annotation: Albert Road

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 227: “a large thoroughfare north of Regent’s Park in central London. Also known as Prince Albert Road.”

Annotation: redoubt

From MCCONNELL 288: fortification

From DANAHAY 181: “a fort put up before a battle to protect troops and artillery”

Annotation: putrefactive

From MCCONNELL 288: “causing decay or rottenness”

Annotation: put upon this earth. Here and there they were scattered

GANGNES: In the 1898 volume, a large paragraph is added between these two:

“For so it had come about, as indeed I and many men might have foreseen had not terror and disaster blinded our minds. These germs of disease have taken toll of humanity since the beginning of things–taken toll of our prehuman ancestors since life began here. But by virtue of this natural selection of our kind we have developed resisting power; to no germs do we succumb without a struggle, and to many–those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, for instance–our living frames are altogether immune. But there are no bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work their overthrow. Already when I watched them they were irrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went to and fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.”

In the serialized text, a similar rumination on microorganisms and their role in the Martian’s destruction is positioned, though not phrased the same way, closer to the end of the installment’s epilogue. Changing the order of these mental asides by the narrator alters the pacing and reveals background information at different points in the narrative.

See text comparison page.

Annotation: destruction of Sennacherib

From MCCONNELL 289: “‘The Destruction of Sennacherib’ is the title of one of the most famous poems of Lord Byron (1788-1824). In II Kings: 19 it is related how the Assyrian King Sennacherib brought a great army to war against the Israelites; but, thanks to the prayers of the Israelites, the Lord killed Sennacherib’s whole army in a single night. The legend has an obvious relevance to the sudden, total, and unhoped-for obliteration of the Martian invaders.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 224: “In a single night, in answer to the prayers of the Israelites, God destroyed the Assyrian army led by King Sennacherib (II Kings 19:35-37). This is the subject of Byron’s celebrated poem ‘the Destruction of Sennacherib’.”

From DANAHAY 182: “reference to II Kings: 19 in which an entire army is wiped out by God in one night”

Annotation: below me. Then at the sound

GANGNES: The 1898 volume inserts a new sentence between these two: “Across the pit on its farther lip, flat and vast and strange, lay the great flying machine with which they had been experimenting upon our denser atmosphere when decay and death arrested them. Death had come not a day too soon.” See text comparison page. This revelation raises the stakes in the volume; the serial mentions the Martians’ flying machines but does not emphasize the danger posed by them, but the volume stresses that the Martians were improving their flying technology so that they could travel farther across Britain and beyond.

Annotation: would fight no more for ever

GANGNES: Note here that HUGHES AND GEDULD disagree with MCCONNELL’s identification of the reference.

From MCCONNELL 289-90: “A last, and very curious, invocation of the sub-theme of colonial warfare and exploitation. In 1877 Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians had surrendered to the United States Army in a noble and widely-reported speech: ‘I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. . . . Hear me, my chiefs, I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more for ever.’ Wells, by associating the tragic dignity of Chief Joseph’s language with the now-defeated Martian invader, achieves a striking reversal of emotion. For we now understand that it is the Martians, pathetically overspecialized prisoners of their own technology, who are the truly pitiable, foredoomed losers of this war of the worlds, of ecologies, of relationships to Nature.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 224: MCCONNELL’s comment is “farfetched. … [T]he Nez Perce in Wells’s day were unsung, and he would not deal in such an obscure allusion.”

More information:

Annotation: enhaloed

From DANAHAY 182: “the birds form circular patterns like a halo”

Annotation: London veiled in her robes of smoke

GANGNES: The “robes of smoke” here refers to the “London fog” (also known as “pea soup fog,” “black fog,” and “killer fog”). This greasy, yellowish fog that hung around London in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries was a byproduct of coal burning. It caused respiratory problems and other illnesses for London residents, especially factory workers. Here, then, Wells offers a vision of a London whose pollution has, perhaps paradoxically, been temporarily swept away by the Martians’ own Black Smoke, which has brought London’s industry to a standstill.

More information:

Annotation: Albert Terrace

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 227: “a street linking Regent’s Park Road and Albert Road, north of Regent’s Park in central London”

Annotation: There is a round store place for wines by the Chalk Farm Station, and vast railway yards, marked once with a graining of black rails, but red lined now with the quick rusting of a fortnight’s disuse.

GANGNES: This sentence is cut from the 1898 volume and a paragraph break is added. See text comparison page.

Annotation: Langham Hotel

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 230: “a large, modern (in the 1890s) hotel on Portland Place, in central London, between Marylebone Road and Langham Place”

Annotation: Albert Hall

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 227: short for The Royal Albert Hall; “a huge enclosed amphitheater in the Italian Renaissance style in South Kensington, London. It was constructed in 1867-71, mainly as a concert hall and is still regularly used for that purpose.”

Annotation: Imperial Institute

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 230: “on Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London. It was opened in 1893 as an exhibition center displaying raw materials and manufactured products that represented the commercial, industrial, and agricultural progress of the British Empire.”

Annotation: Brompton Road

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 227: “a thoroughfare in South Kensington (West London), linking Fulham Road with Knightsbridge”

Annotation: Crystal Palace

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 228: “a Victorian exhibition center constructed (in 1854 by Sir John Paxton) of glass and iron. It was originally used to showcase materials from the Great Exhibition of 1851. The Palace, which burned in the 1930s, was in Sydenham in southeast London, about eight miles from the city center.”

GANGNES: The Crystal Palace was a massive glass structure constructed for the Great Exhibition of 1851. It stood in Hyde Park, London until it was moved to Sydenham Hill in 1852-4, where it remained until it was burned down in 1936. It During the Exhibition, it housed exhibits on cultures, animals, and technologies from all over the world.

More information:

Annotation: St. Paul’s

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “Sir Christopher Wren’s great cathedral. In London, east of Ludgate Hill, one-eighth of a mile north of the Thames at Blackfriars.”

GANGNES: St. Paul’s Cathedral is a massive cathedral that traces its origins to the year 604. It lies in the Blackfriars region of London, near the London Stock Exchange, and is tall enough that it would have been visible to the narrator in most parts of the city.

More information:

Annotation: tintinnabulations

GANGNES: “a ringing of a bell or bells, bell-ringing; the sound or music so produced” (Oxford English Dictionary)

Annotation: THE EPILOGUE

GANGNES: The Epilogue was completely overhauled for the 1898 volume. Firstly, it was split into two parts: Book II, Ch. IX (“Wreckage”) and Book II, Ch. X (“Epilogue”). The first five paragraphs of the serial’s Epilogue were cut, and eight new paragraphs were written for the beginning of Book II, Ch. IX, the rest of which came from the serial’s Epilogue. A few other paragraphs from the serial were cut for the new Epilogue (see below notes).

This rearrangement and supplementation of text has been simplified and/or glossed over in other scholars’ accounts of revisions between the Pearson’s version and the 1898 volume of the novel. When mentioned at all, it is often said that for the volume, Wells added “The Man on Putney Hill” and a “new Epilogue.” Comparison of the text reveals that the reality of the revision was far more complicated, with a fair amount of text preserved from the serial to create the reworked Epilogue. Engaging with these nuanced changes offers insights into not only the editorial process of collecting serialized works for volume publication, but also the degree to which rearranging, tweaking, and supplementing text can affect pacing, characterization, and “message” at the end of a novel.

See text comparison page.

Annotation: eked

GANGNES: “to supplement, supply the deficiencies of anything” (Oxford English Dictionary)

Annotation: Such narratives we must have first in abundance, and afterwards the history may be written.

GANGNES: The narrator here is commenting on the process of historical documentation: historians must gather personal narratives (like his and his brother’s) together and synthesize them into “official” records of history. The narrator simultaneously downplays the importance of his account and asserts its role in the creation of historical records.

Annotation: It speaks eloquently for the lesson that humanity had learned that no attack was made on our stricken Empire during the months of reconstruction.

GANGNES: Which is to say, in spite of the weakened state of Britain during the Martian invasion and the rebuilding period, no other country took advantage of this weakness and attacked Britain or its colonies. The narrator takes heart about the human spirit from this, despite the fact that in the same paragraph he mentions cannibalism, and we must remember what he, himself, did to the curate.

Annotation: Camden Town

GANGNES: district in north London just southeast of Primrose Hill and northeast of Regent’s Park, adjacent to the London Zoo.

Annotation: Jewess

GANGNES: Another instance of casual Anti-Semitic language, though the narrator does not seem to mean it disparagingly, and it is not nearly as offensive as “the Jew” clutching at gold in the narrator’s brother’s story. The word did not have to be changed (if, indeed, it would have been changed) for the volume because this entire section was cut.

Annotation: Nom de Dieu!

GANGNES: French, “Name of God!”

Annotation: Vive l’Angleterre!

GANGNES: French, “Long live England!”

Annotation: kindly insipidity

GANGNES: In this case insipidity would be defined as “want of taste or judgement; weakness, folly” (Oxford English Dictionary). The narrator is not altogether pleased with the French operator’s comments; France cheers on England’s “triumph” over the Martians, after having offered no aid during the crisis. Essentially, his “tousand congratulation’ are in poor taste considering the circumstances.

Annotation: special constable

GANGNES: “Special constables” in the Victorian period were private citizens who were appointed or volunteered to help the official police keep the peace in times of crisis. The “white badge” (below) likely refers to the white armbands issued to special constables in the nineteenth century. “Staff” may indicate their truncheons, or the narrator was given another kind of wooden weapon.

More information:

Annotation: hussars

From DANAHAY 187: “light cavalry, named after the fifteenth-century Hungarian units on which they were modeled”

Annotation: The door had been forced

GANGNES: Someone had broken in while the narrator was gone.

Annotation: went up the stairs. I went

GANGNES: The 1898 volume inserts the following paragraph between these two:

“I followed them to my study, and found lying on my writing-table still, with the selenite paper weight upon it, the sheet of work I had left on the afternoon of the opening of the cylinder. For a space I stood reading over my abandoned arguments. It was a paper on the probable development of Moral Ideas with the development of the civilising process; and the last sentence was the opening of a prophecy: ‘In about two hundred years,’ I had written, ‘we may expect—”‘ The sentence ended abruptly. I remembered my inability to fix my mind that morning, scarcely a month gone by, and how I had broken off to get my Daily Chronicle from the newsboy. I remembered how I went down to the garden gate as he came along, and how I had listened to his odd story of ‘Men from Mars.’”

Through this revision, Wells reminds the reader that the narrator is a philosophical writer. There is an irony here: in his paper, the narrator speculates on moral development two centuries after what ends up being the arrival of the Martians. Speculating about far-future morality is proven folly in the face of an unforeseen present crisis that leaves human beings struggling to live at all, let alone live according to a certain moral code. There is also an implicit irony to the fact that the Martians are at least two centuries ahead of human beings technologically, and they have their own “moral” codes far different to what the narrator might have expected.

See text comparison page.

Annotation: I dashed out and caught her in my arms.

GANGNES: STOVER (248) incorrectly comments on this line as if it were the ending of the serialized version of the text:

“All critics think this is a weak ending, and ending it was in the serial version of 1897. The Epilogue is new to the book but it, too, strikes the very same note.”

This is likely due to some confusion over the fact that an Epilogue was “new to the book”; Wells wrote a new Epilogue for the 1898 volume, for which he retained and rearranged portions of the serialized text, including this scene with the narrator’s cousin and wife.

The asterisk inserted here indicates a “hard break” (paragraph break of several lines) in the serialized text, but it is not, as Stover calls it, the novel’s ending. Rather, it is simply a pause at the conclusion of the narrator’s journey before he reflects on his telling of it, and the outcome and aftereffects of the Martian invasion.

Annotation: Carver

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 225: This name has not been traced to any “real” person.

Annotation: At the very base of the vegetable kingdom

GANGNES: The following two paragraphs are cut from the 1898 volume, likely because a similar discussion of microorganisms appears in a different place in the revision. See text comparison page.

Annotation: “Germs”

GANGNES: The Germ Theory of Disease (“Germ Theory”)–the understanding that diseases are caused by microorganisms (bacteria and viruses)–only came into British public consciousness toward the end of the nineteenth century. Prior to the rise of Germ Theory, “Miasma Theory” dominated scientific conceptions of the nature of disease. Gaining a better understanding of how diseases were caused and spread led to reforms in public health and sanitation.

More information:

Annotation: conducive to digestion and even essential

GANGNES: We now know for a certainty that bacteria are absolutely essential to digestion in human beings and many other organisms. See Sai Manasa Jandhyala, et al, “Role of the Normal Gut Microbiota” (2015).

Annotation: That they did not bury any of their dead, and the reckless slaughter they perpetrated, point also to an entire ignorance of the putrefactive process.

GANGNES: The hypothesis here is that the Martians do not bury their dead because the dead do not decompose on their planet, or at least do not decompose in a way that risks making others ill.

Annotation: three lines in the green

From MCCONNELL 297: “A contradiction. In Book I, Chapter Fifteen, the black smoke is said to produce unusual lines in the blue of the spectrum.”

GANGNES: This contradiction appears in the volume because of an added passage in Chapter XV. See note in Installment 6.

Annotation: possible that it combines with argon

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 225: “This contradicts the earlier statement that the Black Smoke contained ‘an unknown element giving a group of four lines in the blue spectrum’. … Actually, argon, as an inert gas, cannot combine with another element to form a compound.”

GANGNES: The “blue spectrum” line is not in the serial. See Installment 6 note. HUGHES AND GEDULD (225) speculate that this kind of “carelessness in this final chapter probably reflects Wells’s changing intentions regarding its publication.” These “changing intentions” had much to do with Heinemann’s insistence on the book being longer (HUGHES AND GEDULD 5-6).

Annotation: It has often been asked

GANGNES: The following two paragraphs were cut from the 1898 volume. They are substituted in a different part of the ending with a shorter comment about the Martians’ flying machines inserted farther up. See note above and text comparison page. In the revision process, the flying machines become a point of frightening calamity avoided rather than a scientific discussion.

Annotation: a score or so of miles

GANGNES: A “score” is 20 miles, so roughly 20-40 miles.

Annotation: in conjunction

From MCCONNELL 298: “At conjunction, the Earth and Mars are on opposite sides of the Sun.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 225: “Mars and Earth are in (superior) conjunction, and farthest from each other, when they are lined up with the sun between them; they are in opposition, and closest to each other, when they are lined up with Earth between Mars and the sun.”

From DANAHAY 189: “It is far away from earth, but will be ‘in opposition’ again.”

Annotation: Lessing

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 225: This name has not been traced to any “real” person.

Annotation: sinuous marking

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 225: “These sinuous markings are evidently signals. The first occurs on Venus and signals Mars that the Martian invasion of Venus is under way, and the response, occurring on Mars, appears immediately after (‘dark’ presumably because the signal makes a dark mark on a photographic plate).”

Annotation: The photographs were reproduced

GANGNES: This sentence was cut from the 1898 volume; we lose this referencing back to the Nature article. See text comparison page.

Annotation: Knowledge

GANGNES: Knowledge: An Illustrated Magazine of Science, Plainly Worded — Exactly Described (1881-1918) was founded as a weekly periodical with three-column pages by astronomer Richard Anthony Proctor in an effort to make scientific research more accessible. Advertisements allowed Knowledge to undercut the sales of Nature (see next note and Installment 1). It became a monthly periodical in 1885 and, under the editorship of Arthur Cowper, began to introduce reproductions of astronomical photographs, which allowed for the popular distribution of pictures of the stars. This structure of Knowledge at the time when Wells was writing The War of the Worlds is consistent with the idea that the journal might have published photographs of Mars and Venus.


Annotation: corresponding column of Nature

GANGNES: This is a reference to the real article in Nature that was mentioned in Installment 1 (“A Strange Light on Mars”).

Annotation: commonweal

GANGNES: In this case, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “common well-being; esp. the general good, public welfare, prosperity of the community.”

Annotation: sidereal

From DANAHAY 190: “having to do with the stars”

Annotation: gibber

From DANAHAY 191: “to speak rapidly, inarticulately, and often foolishly”

Annotation: the mockery of life in a galvanised body

GANGNES: Possibly a reference to Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus (1818), or at least to the theories about using electricity to reanimate dead flesh that inspired her story. See Sharon Ruston, “The Science of Life and Death in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein on the British Library’s website.