WELLS, HERBERT GEORGE. 1866-1946.
Autograph Manuscript Signed ("H.G. Wells"), being an early working draft of "The First Horseman," forming part III of the novella "A Story of the Stone Age" from Tales of Space and Time, 17 pp, 4to, in ink with extensive notations, corrections and emendations in gray and blue pencil, a few leaves extended with partial sheets at the bottom, with gilt-lettered orange cloth folding chemise and slipcase, some soiling, minor paper loss from removal of metal brad from upper left corner, not affecting the text; slipcase rubbed.
Provenance: Sotheby's New York, June 7, 1988.
This extensively worked self-contained section of a five-part short story first appeared in The Idler, July 1897, pp 736-44; and was reprinted in Tales of Space and Time (London: 1899). An early example of Wells' speculative fiction (originally titled "Stories of the Stone Age") that looks backward to the beginning of Man rather than to the future as in his best-known science fiction such as The Time Machine (1895), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898) and The Shape of Things to Come (1933). Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, L. Frank Baum and Edgar Rice Burroughs all wrote stories about prehistoric times and "primitive" man, but Kingsley Amis in New Maps of Hell, notes that it is this cycle of stories which effectively annexed the territory to the genre of science fiction. In "A Story of the Stone Age," the caveman Ugh-lomi chooses his mate Eudena but must fight and then kill his rival Uya for her. It is while in exile that he rides the first horse and makes the first axe. He must defeat cave bear, hyena and rhinoceros to return to his people to claim his right as tribal leader. Arguably the most compelling part of the entire narrative is "The First Horseman." In this manuscript, one can see Wells' process as he composes this story, adding and deleting words, phrases and paragraphs, and cutting and pasting sections together.
H. G. Wells autograph manuscripts of his stories and novels are extremely rare; at least in part, due to Wells process of cutting and re-cutting. In a contemporary interview, Wells notes, "the first thing you have to do is write the thing down as it comes into your mind and so get some idea of the shape of it ... [then] reading this over, and taking out what you think is essential, and re-writing the essential part of it" (A Chat with H.G. Wells, Today, 1897). In a similar 1917 note to Edmond Byrne Hackett of the Brick Row Bookshop, he adds "Such a thing as a complete MS of any of mine does not exist." We note only 3 manuscript portions of Wells stories that have come to auction within the last five decades, including a portion of When the Sleeper Awakes, here at Bonhams in April 2016, which sold for $143,000.