Sat. May 18th, 2024

Martians land in Surrey and terrorise much of southern England in tripedal war-machines equipped with death-rays before finally succumbing to terrestrial bacteria. That, put very simply, is the story line of HG Wells’ 1898 novel, ‘The War of the Worlds’, an apocalyptic vision that retains an iconic place in the realms of science fiction.

HG Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’
The 1897 first edition of HG Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’ sold by Cheffins for £11,000.

A first bookform edition sold for £11,000 at Cheffins of Cambridge earlier this month was slightly foxed and stained, but on the front free endpaper Wells had signed and inscribed the book for Edmond Joseph Sullivan and added a tiny drawing of a moustachioed angel.

HG Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’ inscription

HG Wells’ presentation inscription on the copy of the ‘War of the Worlds’ sold by Cheffins for £11,000.

This Sullivan (1852-1936) was a British illustrator and artist who some years later illustrated another of Wells’ books, A Modern Utopia, but, in 2004, as part of the superb Roger Rechler library, a copy that Wells inscribed for a James Frank Sullivan had sold at a premium-inclusive $23,900 (then £12,800).

A fellow contributor to The Strand magazine and writer of supernatural short stories, this Sullivan was warmly addressed by Wells as “the original discoverer of the distinguished Merits of this Book…”

The record holder, however is a copy, inscribed to F Luck and containing two ink cartoons, that made £14,000 at Bonhams in 2008.

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