#78 = Volume 26, Part 2 = July 1999
Martin T. Willis
Edison as Time Traveler: H.G. Wells’s Inspiration
for his First Scientific Character
Critics of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine have reached
no conclusions about the character of, or inspiration for, the Time Traveler.
Opinions differ greatly as to the personality of this central figure, with
critics forming three distinct groups: those who see the Time Traveler as a poor
example of the late Victorian scientist, those who view him as a scientific
Everyman, and those who find him a reflection either of Wells himself or of some
mythic precedent. Israel Zangwill, in a critique that appeared soon after the
publication of the novel (1895), reflects the opinions of the first of these
groups, arguing that the Time Traveler "behaves exactly like the hero of a
commonplace sensational novel, with his frenzies of despair and his appeals to
fate" (qtd. in Parrinder 40). A sizeable proportion of contemporary
criticism agrees with this view. Robert J. Begiebing notes that Wells’s hero
is "a kind of Trickster figure, a seeming "‘quack’ and
magician" (203) rather than a scientist; and John Batchelor defines the
Time Traveler as "an ordinary, anonymous middle-class person" (9).
Obversely, Bernard Bergonzi—deservedly a well-regarded
critic of Wells’s work—suggests that the Time Traveler may at first appear
as a sober bourgeois but remembers that "he is, after all, a late-Victorian
scientist with a keen interest in technology" (55). John Huntington also
places greater emphasis on the actions of the Time Traveler than on initial
impressions, highlighting the club-making episode as indicative of an
"ability to do more than serve machines the way the Morlocks do, but to
improvise and invent" (40). Merritt Abrash obliquely lends his support to
this critical position when he notes that "science is [the Time Traveler’s]
only topic of conversation" (5), while Brian Murray is outspoken in arguing
that "The Time Machine features a central character, the ‘Time
Traveler,’ who is not a ghoul; he is congenial, refined—precisely the sort
of figure that Sir Richard Gregory had in mind when he praised Wells’s ability
to present "scientific workers" as "human beings" and not as
the travesties in which they figure in novels and romances written without his
intimate knowledge of them and their impulses" (Murray 88).
There remains a third view of the Time Traveler, however, one
that seeks mythic or other models for this complex character. David Ketterer was
the first critic to recognize the hero’s mythological dimensions in The
Time Machine: "It is tempting to identify him, by analogy at least,
with H.G. Wells. However that may be, the analogue that Wells himself supplies
is Oedipus" (340). Ketterer defends his interpretation by citing the
similarities of the riddle, the image of the sphinx, the Time Traveler’s limp,
and the mythological allusions of the novel’s conclusion. Begiebing likewise
notes a mythical aspect to the central figure of Wells’s novel, although he
does not link the Time Traveler to a specific mythic or literary prototype. More
generically, Begiebing believes that the Time Traveler "exhibits at least
three characteristics of the primordial heroic figure" (202). Harry M.
Geduld pursues Ketterer’s suggestion that Wells himself can be found in the
Time Traveler’s character, suggesting that "a degree of self-idealization
also seems evident in his depiction of the spare and solitary scientist of The
Time Machine, but we must be extremely wary of any elaborate identification
of the Time Traveler and H.G. Wells" (4). Brian Murray’s criticism is
more encompassing, agreeing with each of these critics in turn: "The Time
Traveler stands for much that Wells would consistently praise: he is
resourceful, intrepid, and intensely curious about the world he occupies; he is
then linked to a long line of literary heroes, to Ulysses and Aeneas, bravely
facing a series of hard tests and gaining wisdom as he goes" (89).
Disagreement among critics, then, is rife; and different
interpretations of the Time Traveler may mark the work even of single
commentators. There is consensus, however, on the protagonist of the short story
that gave Wells the impetus for The Time Machine. Dr Nebogipfel, hero of
"The Chronic Argonauts," is commonly branded a poorly executed,
quasi-magical figure whose necromantic leanings override and negate his
scientific sensibilities and reduce the effectiveness of the story as a whole.
As Bernard Bergonzi writes:
Dr. Nebogipfel, though supposedly a scientist and F.R.S., is
a strange character to have been produced by the keen young student who had
studied under Huxley. In fact, he has very little to do with the atmosphere of
progressive thinking and intellectual inquiry that had characterized the Royal
College of Science in the eighties ... and a great deal to do with a literary
tradition exemplified by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Stevenson’s Dr
Jekyll. Stevenson’s story had appeared in 1886, two years before Wells’
romance. Nebogipfel is the scientist as magician or alchemist, rather than the
sober investigator of the physical world, and substantially the same type is
to recur in Wells’ fiction as Dr Moreau, and Griffin, the Invisible Man.
Nebogipfel, like Frankenstein, is of a solitary and secretive disposition. To
this extent, too, he corresponds to the contemporary aesthetic ideal of the
artist who must necessarily be isolated and suffering before he can create.
Roslynn D. Haynes likewise views Dr Nebogipfel as a derivative
of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, physically as well as symbolically: "Dr
Nebogipfel of ‘The Chronic Argonauts’ seems at first to be merely an
exaggerated alchemist figure, his face that of the sunken-eyed fanatic, his
demeanour reminiscent of Frankenstein" (197). John Batchelor, too,
emphasizes literary precedent when, in terminology similar to Haynes, he points
out that "Dr. Nebogipfel seems part demon, part alchemist, an uneasily
jocular descendant of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and of Dr. Faustus"
For the majority of critics, then, Nebogipfel and the Time
Traveler have little in common as characters, despite the connection between
"The Chronic Argonauts" and The Time Machine. Even critics who
do not believe the Time Traveler is representative of the Victorian scientist
still see a significant difference between the magician and trickster of the
novel and the necromantic alchemist of the earlier story. The presumed disparity
between the two protagonists is, however, illusory. Dr Nebogipfel and the Time
Traveler–as well as the versions of these figures that appear in the interim
Time Machine narratives–are far more closely connected than previous
commentary has allowed. The continuity among the different protagonists is
provided, I shall argue, by one historical figure: Thomas Edison. It was Edison
who inspired H.G. Wells in creating the Time Traveler and all his prototypes.
While such a claim has not been made before with regard to
Wells’s writings, Edison did inspire other works of science fiction towards
the end of the nineteenth century. The most important of these are Garrett
Serviss’s Edison’s Conquest of Mars (1898), which can be categorized
as a utopian version of Wells’s own (largely dystopian) The War of the
Worlds (1898), and Villiers de L’Isle-Adam’s L’Eve Future
(1886). The latter is the more interesting of the two for my purposes, for it
characterizes Edison not only as a scientist and inventor but also as a figure
of contemporary mythology, tied as closely to a necromantic as to a scientific
tradition. The importance of this double image of Edison will be made clear as
the present argument progresses. It is sufficient to highlight that writers of
fiction were interested in Thomas Edison during the late 1800s, although Wells’s
own interest in Edison has not yet been remarked.
Towards the end of his career, Wells’s knowledge of Edison
is not in doubt. In The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind
(1932),Wells wrote enthusiastically of Edison’s contribution to science and
human endeavor generally, suggesting that "his was certainly the most
ingenious mind that has ever devoted itself to the commercial application of
science" (454). Furthermore, in a phrase that could as easily be applied to
the Time Traveler as to the American inventor, Wells argues that Edison was
"driven by an indefatigable curiosity" (455). While this late work is
useful in highlighting Wells’s appreciation of Edison’s character and
inventions, it does not, of course, go any way towards proving that the younger
Wells—the Wells who wrote "The Chronic Argonauts" and The Time
Machine—had any detailed knowledge of Edison’s work or any intention of
drawing on Edison in creating his fictional characters. For evidence of this, it
is necessary to turn to Edison’s career in the 1880s and 1890s and to what
Wells may have known of it at that time.
During the years from 1888 to 1895—from Wells’s first
conception of The Time Machine and, logically, of the Time Traveler, to
the published version of the novel1—Thomas Edison was at the peak
of his career. In this seven-year span he recorded hundreds of patents, improved
his revolutionary phonograph, and extended the use of electric lighting into the
public sphere.2 As Ronald W. Clark states in his biography of Edison,
"between 1880 and 1890 Edison crossed that real but unidentifiable frontier
which divides the famous from the celebrities" (149). The U.S. popular
press had dubbed him the greatest living American and he was undoubtedly the
world’s best known living inventor. Edison recorded his first patent at
twenty-one, earned and lost several fortunes during a long career, invented the
first instruments to record and reproduce the human voice, brought electric
light into homes world-wide, made the first piece of cinema complete with sound
and movement, and continued to work at least a sixteen-hour day almost to the
point of his death in 1931 at the age of 84. During the late nineteenth century,
he was viewed as the ultimate Victorian hero, displaying all the qualities so
exalted at that time, as encapsulated by Thomas Hughes: "[Edison] was known
to Americans and to the world as a plain-speaking man of inventive genius who,
through self-education and discipline, applied his talents to the solution of
practical problems of substance and intrinsic interest" (3).
Despite this aggrandizement, public perceptions of Edison were
not entirely homogenous. While the general layman would certainly have respected
Edison’s scientific pragmatism, a segment of the population regarded him with
some superstition. The rural community of Menlo Park, where Edison founded a
laboratory, feared the scientific experiments taking place almost on their own
doorsteps. They called him "The Wizard of Menlo Park," a title that,
fueled by the popular media, became synonymous with the practical inventor. The
irony of these opposing perceptions of Edison is very clear: while the world
heard of yet another empirical invention revealing sound common sense, they were
also hearing that a wizard had been behind its construction.
In Britain, too, the popular press saw Edison as a mixture of
scientist and magician. H.G. Wells would have been aware of this mixed persona,
perpetuated in numerous articles, as The Times of 31 December 1878
testifies: "Mr. Thomas Alva Edison’s present sayings and doings are
watched and noted with feverish anxiety both in the United States and in this
country" (4). The same article, indeed, exhibits both the magical and
scientific view of Edison, claiming at one point that "he is in the
position of a skilful conjurer" (4) and at another that "he has a
large factory and laboratory at Menlo Park ... where many highly skilled
artificers are employed in constructing elaborate machinery" (4).
H.G. Wells works different sides of this dual image of Edison
throughout the long genesis of The Time Machine. The early short story
"The Chronic Argonauts" plays heavily on "The Wizard of Menlo
Park" persona. Dr. Nebogipfel inspires great interest in the small Welsh
village of Llyddwdd when he arrives unannounced and immediately occupies the Old
Manse. Curiosity very quickly becomes distrust, however, as Nebogipfel proves
himself to be somewhat odd: "In almost every circumstance of life the
observant villagers soon found his ways were not only not their ways, but
altogether inexplicable upon any theory of motives they could conceive"
(137). Edison inspired similar feelings when he arrived in the quiet Menlo Park
area of New Jersey, as Ronald Clark has reported: "By the simple
inhabitants of the region ... he was regarded with a kind of uncanny
fascination, somewhat similar to that inspired by Dr. Faustus of old, and no
feat, however startling, would have been considered too great for his occult
In short, Nebogipfel’s arrival in a rural community, his
construction of a laboratory for his work, and the reaction to this intrusion
from the resident population parallels exactly Edison’s move from his New York
workshop to his Menlo Park research facilities in 1876. And one further aspect
of Nebogipfel’s transformation of the Old Manse even more firmly allies him
with Edison. The narrative reveals how, late one evening, a strange whizzing,
buzzing whirr filled the night air, and a bright flicker glanced across the dim
path of the wayfarers. All eyes were turned in astonishment to the Old Manse.
The house no longer loomed a black featureless block but was filled to
overflowing with light. From the gaping holes in the roof, from chinks and
fissures amid tiles and brickwork, from every gap which Nature or man had
pierced in the crumbling old shell, a blinding blue-white glare was streaming,
beside which the rising moon seemed a disc of opaque sulphur." (139)
The coming of electric light is viewed as a transcendental
experience by the local inhabitants of Llyddwdd; Wells emphasizes their
ignorance of scientific advancement.
The light bulbs sending their beams streaming from the windows
of the Old Manse also, of course, highlight Wells’s engagement with perhaps
the best known of Thomas Edison’s inventions, one heavily covered by both the
popular and scientific press. As early as New Year’s Day 1880, an article in Nature
discussed Edison’s electric lighting at Menlo Park and found it "bright,
clear, mellow, regular, free from flickering or pulsations, while the observer
gets more satisfaction from it than from gas" (215). Wells apparently
suggests a connection between Nebogipfel’s electric lighting and Edison’s
spectacle of electricity at Menlo Park.
Now Wells discarded the electric light episode in later
versions of The Time Machine: the final published novel explicitly refers
to the gas lighting in the Time Traveler’s home. Such regression from a
scientific advancement of the late nineteenth century to mid-Victorian
technology appears, at first, incongruous: science fiction most often
extrapolates on contemporary ingenuity, rather than looking back to the past.
This would also seem to obscure any connection of Edison with the Time Traveler.
But I believe that the final omission of this scene fits into
a pattern common to all Wells’s science fiction. In his well known
introduction to Scientific Romances, Wells states that his narrative
practice is to "domesticate the impossible hypothesis" (viii) in order
to make plausible that which seems fantastic. The failure of "The Chronic
Argonauts" rests upon just this problem: Dr Nebogipfel is too easily seen
as a necromantic figure rather than a "plausible" scientist. Wells’s
irony—directed at the Welsh villagers—is not effective: in relying on the
"Wizard of Menlo Park" component of Edison’s myth in constructing
Nebogipfel, that narrative becomes too overtly magical. In the versions of The
Time Machine that were to follow "The Chronic Argonauts" (they
were published in the National Observer and the New Review,
respectively), Wells attempted to correct this bias, turning Nebogipfel into the
Philosophical Inventor and discarding the Welsh village, the dark esotericism,
and the electric light episode.
While Edison defined himself in phrasing similar to Wells’s,
suggesting in an interview that "I might be called a scientific inventor,
as distinguished from a mechanical inventor" (Clark 67), the
characteristics of the Philosophical Inventor in the National Observer
and the New Review versions are at odds with the popular conceptions of
Thomas Edison in the early 1890s. Indeed, the New Review version states
that the Philosophical Inventor "was a mathematician of peculiar subtlety,
and one of our most conspicuous investigators in molecular physics.... In the
after-dinner hours he was ever a wide and variegated talker.... At these times
he was as unlike the popular conception of a scientific investigator as a man
could be" (175).
The discarding of the electrical light episode is a further
example of the disguising of character that Wells attempts in his re-workings of
the original tale. Although electricity itself has little connection with the
necromancy that Dr. Nebogipfel epitomizes, the myth of the "wizard"
Edison focused on his electrical experiments at Menlo Park. In the popular
imagination, then, magic and the electrical light were, if not synonymous, at
least well-linked. For this reason Wells’s return to gas lighting in the final
versions of his tale is no more than a further layer of domestication, a
structuring of the commonplace and the traditional upon which the plausible
foundations of his narrative are built. To have continued to emphasize
electrical lighting—especially in the sensationalist manner of "The
Chronic Argonauts"—would have been to upstage the most fantastic episodes
of the narrative, which of course center on the time machine itself.
There do remain, regardless of Wells’s alteration of the
character of the Philosophical Inventor, echoes of Edison’s myth both in the National
Observer and the New Review versions. The protagonist in the National
Observer version combines his professional and domestic affairs, with
visitors appearing in his laboratory during the narrative—a domestic
accommodation that parallels Edison’s Menlo Park facilities. Although these
characters are never named in the National Observer version, by the time
of the New Review these visitors to the Philosophical Inventor’s
laboratory are given names: Blank, Dash and Chose. A ready comparison may be
drawn here with Edison, who, inspired by his continued interest in telegraphy,
nicknamed his first two children Dot and Dash.3
Other names in the National Observer version suggest
further tenuous, though provocative, echoes of Edison’s domestic life. In this
version the Eloi woman Weena first appears, and her name remains unchanged in
the final version of The Time Machine. Even granting the alteration in
spelling, a parallel with Edison’s own partner can be drawn. By the time of
the writing of the National Observer narrative in the early 1890s, Edison
had been married for several years to Mina, whose name is close to that of Wells’s
Eloi character both in linguistic form and pronunciation.
The clues from language do not end there. While revealing the
model time machine to his collected guests, the German Officer—a character who
does not survive Wells’s later revisions—expresses his astonishment with the
phrase "Gott in Himmel" (159)4, a perfectly apt reaction to
the spectacle he has just witnessed. This character and his German exclamation,
however, also recall Edison’s demonstration of the prototype phonograph. In
the company of his assistant John Kreusi, Edison recited a nursery rhyme and
then played back the phonograph recording. He, like the German Officer of Wells’s
tale, was astonished: "Kreusi, after hearing the phonograph reproduce
Edison reciting ‘Mary had a little lamb,’ could only respond, ‘Mein gott
im Himmel’ [sic]" (Hughes 12). Although the phrase itself is common, its
appearance, in both cases, in connection with the demonstration of a previously
unseen invention under very similar circumstances suggests more than
From "The Chronic Argonauts" to the National
Observer through the New Review, the characterization of Wells’s
first scientific protagonist altered dramatically. These changes, however, had
more to do with Wells’s conception of the narrative as a plausible piece of
scientific extrapolation than with the discarding of Edison after the first
short story. Indeed, Thomas Edison remains integral to the construction of each
central character. It remains vital, however, to see how far elements of Edison’s
myth can be traced in the character of the Time Traveler himself. For this the
1895 version of The Time Machine—the finished work in a sense6—must
provide the basis for reference. And the close connections between Edison and
Wells’s protagonist are still evident throughout that final version.
While many of the critics I have discussed earlier view the
Time Traveler as a theorist, for instance, it is clear that practical invention
is just as strong an impulse. A dinner guest reveals that "our chairs,
being his patents, embraced and caressed us rather than submitted to be sat
upon" (3). The Time Traveler’s impulse to build a time machine rather
than merely theorize over the scientific possibility of time travel surely marks
him as working in the realm of the practical. Thomas Edison, similarly, decried
the exclusively intellectual branches of scientific research that produce
hypotheses and speculations but cannot apply them. Ronald Clark puts this
succinctly in revealing that "preoccupation with development of a specific
invention to meet a specific need was a feature of Edison’s entire working
life, and with it there went a contempt, barely concealed at times, for the man
who dealt in theories rather than their practical application" (65).
Furthermore, both Edison and the Time Traveler make practical provision for
their "hands-on" philosophy. While Edison had a large-scale operation
at Menlo Park, he also had a private workshop which, when he moved to West
Orange later in his career, was connected to his own living quarters. Likewise
the Time Traveler’s laboratory, in which he builds his time machine, is at the
rear of his suburban London house.
As for their actual working practices, parallels can again be
found. Edison’s methodology was "a curious combination of the personally
intuitive and the strictly scientific" (Clark 71), a process of trial and
error, of minor changes and alterations. The Time Traveler reveals a like-minded
attitude in his examination of problems. During his sojourn in the future world
of the Eloi and the Morlock, he puzzles for some time over the construction of
the society of the year 802,701. Despite his limited knowledge, he immediately
appraises the cultural situation: "‘Communism,’ said I to myself"
(33). But later, the Time Traveler admits that his first theory was wholly
wrong: "very simple was my explanation, and plausible enough—as most
wrong theories are!" (38). Setbacks drive him to the discovery of new
information, the continual evaluation of which brings him to his goal: a
practical knowledge of the world of the far future.
Successful as the Time Traveler and Edison are in their trial
and error approach to solving problems, it is undoubtedly a time-consuming and
lengthy approach requiring much energy and dedication. Edison was renowned as an
obsessive worker, spending days and nights in his workshops and catching only a
few hours’ sleep on his desktop when fatigued. He seemed incapable of
relaxation when faced with a problem, preferring the frustration of repeated
failure to giving up or retreating. The popular media were well aware of this
trait in his character and Edison was cruelly lampooned by many humorous
publications on the day of his first marriage, when a variety of cartoons
depicted him in his laboratory in a frock-coat, holding aloft a light bulb while
the wedding reception carried on the celebrations in the adjacent room. The Time
Traveler, although never reaching this level of preoccupation, displays a
similar restlessness and hatred of inactivity when confronted with a difficult
problem. The clearest example of this occurs when he returns from a day-long
expedition through his immediate surroundings to discover that the time machine
is no longer parked on the grass in front of the statue of the white Sphinx.
After recovering from his panic, and deducing that the time machine is now
inside the Sphinx, the Time Traveler attempts vainly to break down the heavy
doors that block his access to the interior. His strenuous actions produce no
effect and "at last, hot and tired, I sat down to watch the place. But I
was too restless to watch for long: I am too Occidental for a long vigil. I
could work at a problem for years, but to wait inactive for twenty-four hours–that
is another matter" (44). One need look no further than the mainstream
contemporary press to discover similar sentiments expressed about Edison
himself. The Times reported during the 1870s that "having once
undertaken to furnish a printing machine ... [Edison] shut himself up in a room
declaring he would remain there till he succeeded in getting the machine to his
mind. He accomplished the task after 60 hours of continuous labor" (4).
Practicality and professional pragmatism are not the only
qualities shared by the Time Traveler and Edison. Their ability to solve
problems—particularly those that occur in the process of their own
investigations—is accompanied by a flamboyance evident in both their
personalities. The Time Traveler demonstrates this very early in the narrative
when he provides his guests with the most eclectic of after-dinner
entertainments—his model time machine:
He [the Time Traveler] took one of the small octagonal
tables that were scattered about the room, and set it in front of the fire,
with two legs on the hearthrug. On this table he placed the mechanism. Then he
drew up a chair, and sat down. The only other object on the table was a small
shaded lamp, the bright light of which fell upon the model. There were also
perhaps a dozen candles about, two in brass candlesticks upon the mantel and
several in sconces, so that the room was brilliantly illuminated[...]. There
was a minute’s pause perhaps. The Psychologist seemed about to speak to me,
but changed his mind. Then the Time Traveler put forward his finger towards
the lever. "No," he said suddenly. "Lend me your hand."
And turning to the Psychologist, he took that individual’s hand in his own
and told him to put out his forefinger. So that it was the Psychologist
himself who sent forth the model Time Machine on its interminable voyage.
The deference paid to the small model, the atmospheric
illumination of the room, and the use of the Psychologist’s finger all add to
the theatrical spectacle the Time Traveler cleverly engineers. No mere
presentation of fact or simple relation of events is good enough for the
ingenious inventor to first reveal his remarkable discovery. Instead, he
constructs a dramatic exhibition that has great impact upon the gathered
This sense of showmanship was shared by Thomas Edison, who
shrewdly realized that making an impression was often as important as providing
a worthwhile invention. His demonstration of the electric lightbulb, first to a
select group of important public figures and then to the general public, was
just such a feat. As Thomas Hughes relates, "special trains from New York
and elsewhere brought the prominent and the plain to view four houses
illuminated, streets lit, and the laboratory glowing" (30). Equally
spectacular was Edison’s revelatory exhibition of the phonograph to reporters
for Scientific American: he so excited and enthralled onlookers that
"the editor had to stop the demonstration because the size of the crowd
that had assembled threatened to collapse the office floor" (Hughes 13).
It can readily be seen, then, why interpretations of Wells’s
Time Traveler differ so markedly. A major influence on the character, Thomas
Edison, was himself a man of paradox—utilitarian yet theatrical, necromantic
yet scientific. In various versions of The Time Machine, Wells
experimented with the different public personae of Edison: however unlikely it
seems that any one figure could have influenced Dr. Nebogipfel, the Philosophical
Inventor, and the Time Traveler, these protagonists all share some aspect of the
many-faceted personality and myth of Thomas Edison. In addition, details in the
texts also locate roots of Wells’s character in Edison’s private world. A
common thread can be seen to run from the early short story, "The Chronic
Argonauts," to the completed novel published in 1895. Nebogipfel explores
the "Wizard of Menlo Park" side of the Edison myth, the Philosophical
Inventor—although less explicitly representative—reveals some interesting
biographical parallels, and the final protagonist, the Time Traveler, displays
many of the characteristics of Edison as an indefatigable practical scientist.
In their roles as scientist and inventor, both Thomas Edison
and the fully-fledged Time Traveler of the 1895 romance reveal marked
similarities in technique, working practice, and personality. No longer should
Wells’s Time Traveler be seen as the cool scientific thinker, or a mythical
hero in the epic mold, or an ordinary Victorian who is out of his depth in the
world of the Eloi and Morlock. Rather he should be viewed as a subtle and
complimentary portrait of the foremost scientist of the late nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries, a man whose work offered as powerful a vision of the
future as Wells’s evocation of the year 802,701.
1. H.G. Wells began The Time Machine in 1888, with the
short story "The Chronic Argonauts," published in the Science
Schools Journal between April and June of that year. Further versions
appeared in the National Observer between March and June of 1894 and the New
Review, which serialized the story from January to May 1895. The completed
novel was first published in the United States in May 1895; this was closely
followed by a more definitive edition published in Britain later that month. I
recommend Harry M. Geduld’s The Definitive Time Machine, which
republishes "The Chronic Argonauts" and excerpts from the two later
versions. This book was invaluable during my initial researches into the genesis
of Wells’s first scientific romance.
2. On the life and work of Thomas Edison, see in Works Cited
the studies of Ronald W. Clark, Thomas P. Hughes, Nina Morgan, and Keith Ellis.
3. Ronald Clark makes note of this in his biography of Edison:
"A daughter, named Marion [sic], was born the following year ; four
years later, a son christened Thomas and in 1879 a second son, William Leslie.
Edison, still concentrating on the telegraph, nicknamed the first two children
Dot and Dash" (32). I am unable to locate any publications contemporaneous
with Wells’s Time Machine narratives that tell this story and thereby
prove that the nicknames were known to the wider public in the 1880s and 1890s.
4. This page reference refers to the reprinted version of the National
Observer articles that can be found in Harry M. Geduld (154-174).
5. Although I find this parallel striking and undoubtedly
suggestive I am unable, once again, to provide any evidence that the story of
John Kreusi was told in contemporary publications. At the same time, it remains
a piece of circumstantial evidence that is difficult to ignore.
6. This was the last major revision of The Time Machine
story. All future alterations were minor.
Abrash, Merritt. "The Hubris of Science: Wells’ Time
Traveler." In Patterns of the Fantastic II, ed. Donald M. Hassler.
Mercer Island, WA: Starmont, 1985. 5-11.
Anon. Nature 21 (Jan. 1, 1880): 215.
Anon. "Sketch of Edison." Times (Dec. 31,
Batchelor, John. H.G. Wells. Cambridge: Cambridge UP,
Begiebing, Robert J. "The Mythic Hero in H.G. Wells’s The
Time Machine." In Essays in Literature 11.2 (1984): 201-210.
Bergonzi, Bernard. The Early H.G. Wells: A Study of the
Scientific Romances. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1961.
Clark, Ronald W. Edison: The Man Who Made The Future.
London: Macdonald, 1977.
Ellis, Keith, Thomas Edison: Genius of Electricity.
London: Priory, 1974.
Geduld, Harry M. The Definitive Time Machine: A Critical
Edition of H.G. Wells’ Scientific Romance. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1987.
Haynes, Roslynn D., H.G. Wells: Discoverer of the Future—The
Influence of Science on His Thought. London: Macmillan, 1980.
Hughes, Thomas P. Thomas Edison: Professional Inventor.
London: HMSO, 1976.
Huntington, John. "The Science Fiction of H.G.
Wells." In Science Fiction: A Critical Guide, ed. Patrick Parrinder.
London: Longmans, 1979. 34-50.
Ketterer, David. "Oedipus as Time Traveler." SFS
9.3 (Nov. 1982): 340-341.
Morgan, Nina. Thomas Edison. Hove: Wayland, 1991.
Murray, Brian. H.G. Wells. New York: Continuum, 1990.
Wells, H.G. The Scientific Romances. London: Gollancz,
_____. The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind.
London: Heinemann, 1932.
Zangwill, Israel. "Israel Zangwill on Time Travelling."
In H.G. Wells: The Critical Heritage. Ed. Patrick Parrinder. London:
Routledge, 1972. 40-42.