London: C. Arthur Pearson, 1897. Item #04578
Transparently, a Masterpiece
An Exceptional First Edition of “The Invisible Man”
WELLS, H.G. The Invisible Man. A Grotesque Romance. London: C. Arthur Pearson, 1897.
First edition. Octavo (7 3/16 x 4 13/16 inches; 183 x 122 mm.). viii, 245, [1, printer’s imprint], [2, publisher’s advertisements] pp. Page  is incorrectly numbered 2. Title printed in red and black.
Original red cloth with front cover lettered in gilt and decoratively stamped in black with the design of the Invisible Man in his dressing gown. Spine ruled and lettered in gilt. Inner hinges expertly and almost invisibly repaired. The paper stock is only mildly toned at the edges; most copies of this title, due to the poor quality of the paper used, exhibit browning throughout. This is a very good copy copy of a book that tends not to survive in anywhere near fine condition.
“The story begins comically in rural Surrey. ‘The stranger’, muffled, bespectacled and morbidly reclusive, installs himself at the Coach and Horses inn, provoking the curiosity of all in Iping village. He is in fact a young student, Griffin. The unveiling of the stranger’s secret over the next two months is initially hilarious. But when driven to flight things become gradually more ominous as he revenges himself on his tormentors. In the next phase of the story, he recruits a tramp (a type Wells always handled well) as his assistant. He breaks into the house of a former student friend, now Dr. Kemp, and tells him his story. It emerges that he is a figure to be pitied, rather than feared (particularly effective are the invisible man’s descriptions of his lonely alienation in London). Kemp betrays him, when the invisible man proposes setting up a reign of terror by selective murder. Alone and hunted and increasingly demented, he declares the ‘Epoch of the Invisible Man’. But it is he who is hunted and beaten to death by the decent country folk he intended to rule. As it lies in the street, his albino corpse finally materialises” (The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction).
“This story was first printed serially in Pearson’s Weekly (June and July, 1897). The story, as given in the edition collated above, ends with the death of Griffin in Chapter XXVIII. The American first edition (Edward Arnold, New York. 1897), however, has a short Epilogue in which Thomas Marvell, who has retained the papers of the dead man, is pictured as proprietor of an inn, ‘The Invisible Man.’ This Epilogue is printed in a cheap edition with paper wrappers issued by Pearson (1900), where it occupies four pages (pp. 247-250)” (Wells).
Bleiler (1978), p. 205. Currey, p. 520. Hammond B4. Reginald 15039. Wells 11. Wells Society 11.