The Full Wiki

The Time Machine: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

The Time Machine is a novel by H. G. Wells, first published in 1895 and later directly adapted into at least two feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction in all media. This 32,000 word novella is generally credited with the popularization of the concept of time travel using a vehicle that allows an operator to travel purposefully and selectively. The term "time machine", coined by Wells, is now universally used to refer to such a vehicle. Wells introduces an early example of the Dying Earth subgenre as well.


Wells had considered the notion of time travel before, in an earlier (but less well-known) work titled The Chronic Argonauts. He had thought of using some of this material in a series of articles in the Pall Mall Gazette, until the publisher asked him if he could instead write a serial novel on the same theme; Wells readily agreed, and was paid £100 on its publication by Heinemann in 1895. The story was first published in serial form in the New Review through 1894 and 1895. The book is based on the Block Theory of the Universe, which is a notion that time is a fourth space dimension.

The story reflects Wells's own socialist political views and the contemporary angst about industrial relations. Other science fiction works of the period, including Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, and the later Metropolis, dealt with similar themes.

The Time Machine is in the public domain in the United Statesmarker, Canadamarker, and Australia, but does not enter the public domain in the European Union until January 1, 2017 (1946 death of author + 70 years + end of calendar year).

Plot summary

The book's protagonist is an English scientist and gentleman inventor, identified by a narrator simply as the Time Traveller. The narrator recounts the Traveller's lecture to his weekly dinner guests that time is simply a fourth dimension, and his demonstration of a tabletop model machine for travelling through it. He reveals that he has built a machine capable of carrying a person, and returns at dinner the following week to recount a remarkable tale, becoming the new narrator:

The Time Traveller tests his device with a journey that takes him to the year A.D. 802,701, where he meets the Eloi, a society of small, elegant, androgynous, and childlike people. They live in small communities within large and futuristic yet slowly deteriorating buildings, doing no work and eating a frugivorous diet. His efforts to communicate with them are hampered by their lack of curiosity or discipline, and he concludes that they are a peaceful communist society, the result of humanity conquering nature with technology, and subsequently evolving to adapt to an environment in which strength and intellect are no longer advantageous to survival.

Returning to the site where he arrived, the Time Traveller finds his time machine missing, and eventually figures out that it has been dragged by some unknown party into a nearby structure with heavy doors, locked from the inside. Later in the dark, he is approached menacingly by the Morlocks, pale, apelike people who live in darkness underground, where he discovers the machinery and industry that makes the above-ground paradise possible. He alters his theory, speculating that the human race has evolved into two species: the leisured classes have become the ineffectual Eloi, and the downtrodden working classes have become the brutish light-fearing Morlocks. Deducing that the Morlocks have taken his time machine, he explores the Morlock tunnels, learning that they feed on the Eloi. His revised analysis is that their relationship is not one of lords and servants but of livestock and ranchers, and with no real challenges facing either species. They have both lost the intelligence and character of Man at its peak.

Meanwhile, he saves an Eloi named Weena from drowning, and they develop an innocently affectionate relationship over the course of several days. He takes Weena with him on an expedition to a distant structure that turns out to be the remains of a museum, where he finds a fresh supply of matches and fashions a crude weapon against Morlocks, whom he fears he must fight to get back his machine. But the long and tiring journey back to Weena's home is too much for them, they are overcome by Morlocks in the night, and Weena is injured. The Traveller escapes only when a small fire he had left behind them to distract the Morlocks catches up to them as a forest fire; Weena is lost to the fire.

The Morlocks use the time machine as bait to ensnare the Traveller, not understanding that he will use it to escape. He travels further ahead to roughly 30 million years from his own time. There he sees some of the last living things on a dying Earth, menacing reddish crab-like creatures slowly wandering the blood-red beaches of a world covered in simple vegetation. He continues to make short jumps through time, seeing Earth's rotation gradually cease and the sun grow dimmer, and the world falling silent and freezing as the last degenerate living things die out.

Overwhelmed, he returns to his laboratory, at just three hours after he originally left. Interrupting dinner, he relates his adventures to his disbelieving visitors, producing as evidence two strange flowers Weena had put in his pocket. The original narrator takes over and relates that he returned to the Time Traveller's house the next day, finding him in final preparations for another journey. The Traveller promises to return in half an hour, but three years later, the narrator despairs of ever learning what became of him.

Deleted text

A section from the 11th chapter of the serial published in New Review (May, 1895) was deleted from the book. It was drafted at the suggestion of Wells's editor, William Ernest Henley, who wanted Wells to "oblige your editor" by lengthening out the text with, among other things, an illustration of "the ultimate degeneracy" of man. "There was a slight struggle," Wells later recalled, "between the writer and W. E. Henley who wanted, he said, to put a little 'writing' into the tale. But the writer was in reaction from that sort of thing, the Henley interpolations were cut out again, and he had his own way with his text."This portion of the story was published elsewhere as The Grey Man.This deleted text was also published by Forrest J. Ackerman in an issue of the American edition of Perry Rhodan.

The deleted text recounts an incident immediately after the Traveller's escape from the Morlocks. He finds himself in the distant future of an unrecognisable Earth, populated with furry, hopping herbivores. He stuns or kills one with a rock, and upon closer examination realizes they are probably the descendants of humans/Eloi. A gigantic, centipede-like arthropod approaches and the Traveller flees into the next day, finding that the creature has apparently eaten the tiny humanoid.

Film, TV, or theatrical adaptations

First adaptation

The first visual adaptation of the book was a live teleplay broadcast on 25 January 1949 by the BBC, which starred Russell Napier as the Time Traveller and Mary Donn as Weena. No recording of this live broadcast was made; the only record of the production is the script and a few black and white still photographs. A reading of the script, however, suggests that this teleplay remained fairly faithful to the book.

Escape Radio broadcasts

The CBS radio anthology Escape adapted The Time Machine twice, in 1948 starring Jeff Corey, and again in 1950 starring John Dehner. In both episodes a script adapted by Irving Ravetch was used. The Time Traveler was named Dudley and was accompanied by his skeptical friend Fowler as they traveled to the year 100,080.

1960 film

George Pál (who also made a famous 1953 "modernized" version of Wells's The War of the Worlds) filmed The Time Machine in 1960. Rod Taylor (The Birds) starred, along with Yvette Mimieux as the young Eloi, Weena, Alan Young as his closest friend David Filby (and, in 1917 and 1966, his son James Filby), Sebastian Cabot as Dr Hillyer, Whit Bissell as Walter Kemp and Doris Lloyd as his housekeeper Mrs Watchett. The Time Traveller had the first name of George. The plate on the Time Machine is inscribed 'Manufactured by H. George Wells'. This is clearly visible and easily read whenever the date indicator panel is shown in the film. The location is not stated but is near a sharp bend of the river Thames, so is presumably still Richmond, Surreymarker.

This is more of an adventure tale than the book was; The story begins with the Time Traveller returning from his trip, unkempt and in disarray. He relates to his friends of what he has witnessed: wars' horrors first-hand in June, 1940 over London and a nuclear bomb in August, 1966. Travelling to 802,701 A.D., he finds world has settled into a vast garden. He meets the pacifist Eloi, who speak broken English, and have little interest in technology or the past. Their brethren from long ago, the Morlocks, however, have devolved into cannibalistic underground workers. He deduces the division of mankind resulted from mutations induced by nuclear war - periodic air-raid sirens cause Weena and many Eloi to instinctively report to underground shelters run by the Morlocks. The Time Traveler goes down to rescue them, and encourages a leader among them to help them escape. Having escaped, and after throwing dead wood into the holes on the surface to feed a growing underground fire, they retreat to the river as underground explosions cause a cave-in. After getting to his machine, he is trapped behind a closed door with several Morlocks, whom he has to fight in order to escape. Battered, he makes it back to his scheduled dinner the next Friday January 5, 1900.

After relating his story, the Time Traveller leaves for a second journey, but Filby and Mrs Watchett note that he had taken three books from the shelves in his drawing room. Filby comments that George must've had a plan for a new Eloi civilization. "Which three books would you have taken?" Filby inquires to Mrs. Watchett, adding " ... he has all the time in the world."

The film is noted for its then-novel use of time lapse photographic effects to show the world around the Time Traveller changing at breakneck speed as he travels through time. (Pal's earliest films had been works of stop-motion animation.)

Thirty-three years later, a combination sequel/documentary Time Machine: The Journey Back (1993 film), directed by Clyde Lucas, was produced. Rod Taylor hosted, with Bob Burns (also Ex Producer), Gene Warren Sr. and Wah Chang as guests. Michael J. Fox (who had himself portrayed a time traveller in the Back to the Future trilogy) spoke about time travelling in general. In the second half, written by original screenwriter David Duncan, the movie's original actors Rod Taylor, Alan Young and Whit Bissell reprise their roles. The Time Traveller returns to his laboratory in 1916, finding Filby there, and encourages his friend to join him in the far future — but Filby has doubts. (Time Machine: The Journey Back is featured as an extra on the DVD release of the 1960 film).

The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal

This film, produced and directed by Arnold Leibovit, is a biopic of George Pal. It contains a number of filmed elements from Pal's 1960 film version of The Time Machine.

1978 TV movie

A low-quality TV version was made in 1978, with very unconvincing time-lapse images of building walls being de-constructed, and inexplicable geographic shifting from Los Angelesmarker to Plymouth, Mass.marker, and inland Californiamarker. John Beck starred as Neil Perry, with Whit Bissell (from the original 1960 movie and also one of the stars of the 1966 television series The Time Tunnel) appearing as one of Perry's superiors. Though only going a few thousand years into the future, Perry finds the world of the Eloi and Morlocks, and learns the world he left will be destroyed by another of his own inventions. The character Weena was played by Priscilla Barnes of Three's Company fame.

1994 audio drama

In 1994 an audio drama was published on CD by Alien Voices, starring Leonard Nimoy as the Time Traveller (named John) and John de Lancie as David Filby. John de Lancie's children, Owen de Lancie and Keegan de Lancie, played the parts of the Eloi. The drama is approximately two hours long. Interestingly, this version of the story is more faithful to Wells's novella than either the 1960 movie or the 2002 movie.

2002 film

The 1960 film was remade in 2002, starring Guy Pearce as the Time Traveller, who is mechanical engineer professor Alexander Hartdegen, Mark Addy as his colleague David Filby, Sienna Guillory as Alex's ill-fated fiancée Emma, Phyllida Law as Mrs. Watchit, and Jeremy Irons as the uber-Morlock. Playing a quick cameo as a shopkeeper was Alan Young, who featured in the 1960 film. (H.G. Wells himself can also be said to have a "cameo" appearance, in the form of a photograph on the wall of Alex's home, near the front door.)

The film was directed by Wells's great-grandson Simon Wells, with an even more revised plot that incorporated the ideas of paradoxes and changing the past. The place is changed from Richmond, Surrey, to downtown New York Citymarker, where the Time Traveller moves forward in time to find answers to his questions on 'Practical Application of Time Travel;' first in 2030 New York, to witness an orbital lunar catastrophe in 2037, before moving on to 802,701 for the main plot. He later briefly finds himself in 635,427,810 with toxic clouds and a world laid waste (presumably by the Morlocks )with devastation and Morlock artifacts stretching out to the horizon.

It was met with generally mixed reviews and earned $56 million before VHS/DVD sales. The Time Machine used a design that was very reminiscent of the one in the Pal film, but was much larger and employed polished turned brass construction, along with rotating quartz/glasses reminiscent of the light gathering prismatic lenses common to lighthouses(In Wells's original book, the Time Traveller mentioned his 'scientific papers on optics'). Weena makes no appearance; Hartdegen instead becomes involved with a female Eloi named Mara, played by Samantha Mumba. In this film, the Eloi have, as a tradition, preserved a "stone language" that is identical to English. The Morlocks are much more barbaric and agile, and the Time Traveller has a direct impact on the plot. Rather than returning to the past he destroys the Time Machine in what can only be described as a spectacular 'Time Bomb' sequence in order to change the future.

2009 BBC Radio 3 broadcast

Robert Glenister stars as the Time Traveller, with William Gaunt as H. G. Wells in a new 100-minute radio dramatisation by Philip Osment, directed by Jeremy Mortimer as part of a BBC Radio Science Fiction season. This was the first adaptation of the novel for British radio. It was first broadcast on 22 February 2009 on BBC Radio 3. The other cast was:
  • Time traveller - Robert Glenister
  • Martha - Donnla Hughes
  • Young HG Wells - Gunnar Cauthery
  • Filby, friend of the young Wells - Stephen Critchlow
  • Bennett, friend of the young Wells - Chris Pavlo
  • Mrs Watchett, the traveller's housemaid - Manjeet Mann
  • Weena, one of the Eloi and the traveller's partner - Jill Cardo
  • Other parts - Robert Lonsdale, Inam Mirza and Dan Starkey

The adaptation retained the nameless status of the time traveller and set it as a true story told to the young Wells by the time traveller, which Wells then re-tells as an older man to the American journalist Martha whilst firewatching on the roof of Broadcasting Housemarker during the Blitz. It also retained the deleted ending from the novel as a recorded message sent back to Wells from the future by the traveller using a prototype of his machine, with the traveller escaping the anthropoid creatures to 30 million AD at the end of the universe before disappearing or dying there.

Sequels by other authors

Wells's novella has become one of the cornerstones of science-fiction literature. As a result, it has spawned many offspring. Works expanding on Wells's story include:

  • The Return of the Time Machine by Egon Friedell, printed in 1972, from the 1946 German version. The author portrays himself as a character searching for the Time Traveller in different eras.

  • The Hertford Manuscript by Richard Cowper, first published in 1976. It features a "manuscript" which reports the Time Traveller's activities after the end of the original story. According to this manuscript, the Time Traveller disappeared because his Time Machine had been damaged by the Morlocks without him knowing it. He only found out when it stopped operating during his next attempted time travel. He found himself on August 27, 1665, in Londonmarker during the outbreak of the Great Plague of London. The rest of the novel is devoted to his efforts to repair the Time Machine and leave this time period before getting infected with the disease. He also has an encounter with Robert Hooke. He eventually dies of the disease on September 20, 1665. The story gives a list of subsequent owners of the manuscript until 1976. It also gives the name of the Time Traveller as Robert James Pensley, born to James and Martha Pensley in 1850 and disappearing without trace on June 18, 1894.

  • Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter, first published in 1979. A steampunk novel in which the Morlocks, having studied the Traveller's machine, duplicate it and invade Victorian London.

  • The Space Machine by Christopher Priest, first published in 1976. Because of the movement of planets, stars and galaxies, for a time machine to stay in one spot on Earth as it travels through time, it must also follow the Earth's trajectory through space. In Priest's book, the hero damages the Time Machine, and arrives on Mars, just before the start of the invasion described in The War of the Worlds. H.G. Wells himself appears as a minor character.

  • Time Machine II by George Pal and Joe Morhaim, published in 1981. The Time Traveller, named George, and the pregnant Weena try to return to his time, but instead land in the London Blitz, dying during a bombing raid. Their newborn son is rescued by an American ambulance driver, and grows up in the United States under the name Christopher Jones. Sought out by the lookalike son of James Filby, Jones goes to England to collect his inheritance, leading ultimately to George's journals, and the Time Machine's original plans. He builds his own machine with 1970s upgrades, and seeks his parents in the future.

  • The Time Ships, by Stephen Baxter, first published in 1995. This sequel was officially authorized by the Wells estate to mark the centenary of the original's publication. In its wide-ranging narrative, the Traveller's desire to return and rescue Weena is thwarted by the fact that he has changed history (by telling his tale to his friends, one of whom published the account). With a Morlock (in the new history, the Morlocks are intelligent and cultured) he travels through the multiverse as increasingly complicated timelines unravel around him, eventually meeting mankind's far future descendants, whose ambition is to travel into the multiverse of multiverses. Like much of Baxter's work, this is definitely hard science fiction; it also includes many nods to the prehistory of Wells's story in the names of characters and chapters.

  • The 2003 short story "On the Surface" by Robert J. Sawyer begins with this quote from the Wells original: "I have suspected since that the Morlocks had even partially taken it [the time machine] to pieces while trying in their dim way to grasp its purpose." In the Sawyer story, the Morlocks develop a fleet of time machines and use them to conquer the same far future Wells depicted at the end of the original, by which time, because the sun has grown red and dim and thus no longer blinds them, they can reclaim the surface of the world.

  • The Man Who Loved Morlocks and The Trouble With Weena (The Truth about Weena) are two different sequels, the former a novel and the latter a short story, by David J. Lake. Each of them concerns the Time Traveller's return to the future. In the former, he discovers that he cannot enter any period in time he has already visited, forcing him to travel in to the further future, where he finds love with a woman whose race evolved from Morlock stock. In the latter, he is accompanied by Wells, and succeeds in rescuing Weena and bringing her back to the 1890s, where her political ideas cause a peaceful revolution.

  • The time-travelling hero known as "The Rook" (who appeared in various comics from Warren Publishing) is the grandson of the original Time Traveller. In one story, he met the Time Traveller, and helps him stop the Morlocks from wiping out the Eloi.

  • Burt Libe wrote two sequels: Beyond the Time Machine and Tangles in Time, telling of the Time Traveller finally settling down with Weena in the 33rd century. They have a few children, the youngest of whom is the main character in the second book.

  • In 2006, Monsterwax Trading Cards combined The Time Machine with two of Wells's other stories, The Island of Dr. Moreau and The War of the Worlds. The resulting 102 card trilogy, by Ricardo Garijo, was entitled The Art of H. G. Wells. [5142] The continuing narrative links all three stories by way of an unnamed writer mentioned in Wells's first story, to the nephew of Ed Prendick (the narrator of Dr. Moreau), and another unnamed writer (narrator) in The War of the Worlds.

  • In Ronald Wright's novel A Scientific Romance, a lonely museum curator on the eve of the millennium discovers a letter written by Wells shortly before his death, foretelling the imminent return of the Time Machine. The curator finds the machine, then uses it to travel into a post-apocalyptic future.

The Time Traveller

Although the Time Traveller's real name is never given in the original novel, other sources have named him.

One popular theory, encouraged by movies like Time After Time and certain episodes of the hit show Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, is that the Time Traveller is meant to be none other than H. G. Wells himself. Indeed, in the George Pál movie adaptation of The Time Machine, his name is given as George (also H. G. Wells' middle name). Due to the clarity of the DVD image, 'H.G. Wells' can be seen on the control panel of the device, making it obvious that the film's Time Traveller is H.G. Wells.

In Simon Wells' 2002 remake, the Time Traveller is named Alexander Hartdegen.

In The Time Ships, Stephen Baxter's sequel to The Time Machine, the Time Traveller encounters his younger self via time travel, who he nicknames 'Moses'. His younger self reacts with embarrassment to this, which implies that it may be a first name that he changed. This is a reference to H.G. Wells' story "The Chronic Argonauts", the story which grew into The Time Machine, in which the inventor of the Time Machine is named Dr. Moses Nebogipfel. (The surname of Wells' first inventor graces another character in Baxter's book, as explained above.)

The Hartford Manuscript, another sequel to The Time Machine, gives the Time Traveller's name as Robert James Pensley.

Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life by Philip José Farmer gives the Time Traveller's name as Bruce Clarke Wildman.

The Rook comic book series gives the Time Traveller's name as Adam Dane.

In the Doctor Who comic strip story "The Eternal Present", the character of Theophilus Tolliver is implied to be the Time Traveller of Wells' novel.

Also featured in Doctor Who is Wells, himself, appearing in the television serial Timelash. The events of this story are portrayed has having inspired Wells to write The Time Machine.

See also


  1. John R. Hammond, H. G. Wells's The Time Machine: A Reference Guide (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004), pg. 50.
  2. BBC Radio 3 website

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address