The Big List of Time Travel Adventures

 1888 to 1899

The story and its importance were noted in the first issue of Tomorrow.

   “The Chronic Argonauts”
by H.G. Wells
First publication: The Science School Journal, 1888

Wells abandoned this early version of the story after three installments. He may not have liked it, but it’s a fun historical read—and the first mention that I’ve seen of time as the fourth dimension.

 Those who were there say that they saw Dr. Nebogipfel, standing in the toneless electric glare, on a peculiar erection of brass and ebony and ivory; and that he seemed to be smiling at them, half pityingly and half scornfully, as it is said martyrs are wont to smile. 




   Looking Backward from 2000 to 1887
by Edward Bellamy
First publication: 1888

As with The Diothas from earlier in the same decade, our hero tells the story of a man (Julian West) who undergoes hypnotically induced time travel, this time to the year 2000 and a socialist utopian society.

 It would have been reason enough, had there been no other, for abolishing money, that its possession was no indication of rightful title to it. In the hands of the man who had stolen it or murdered for it, it was as good as in those which had earned it by industry. People nowadays interchange gifts and favors out of friendship, but buying and selling is considered absolutely inconsistent with the mutual benevolence and disinterestedness which should prevail between citizens and the sense of community of interest which supports our social system. According to our ideas, buying and selling is essentially anti-social in all its tendencies. It is an education in self-seeking at the expense of others, and no society whose citizens are trained in such a school can possibly rise above a very low grade of civilization. 



No Time Travel.
Move along.
“Mysterious Disappearances” by Ambrose Bierce, The San Francisco Examiner, 14 Oct 1888 [people-trapping dimensions ]
aka ‘Whither?’



   A Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
by Mark Twain
First publication: 1889

A clonk on the head transports Hank Morgan from the 19th century back to the time of Camelot.

 You know about transmigration of souls; do you know about transportation of epochs—and bodies? 


Mark Twain, Master Traveller

I first read the original in 7th grade: for me, a vast improvement on Huck Finn. I do see some roots of Robert A. Heinlein (a fellow Master Traveller) in the Connecticut Yankee’s political, economic and social machinations.







   Sylvie and Bruno
by Lewis Carroll
First publication: 13 Dec 1889

Alice told us, “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” But Lewis Carroll’s lesser known characters have no such injunction against time traveling. Near the end of the first volume of Sylvie and Bruno, the Professor—who is a sometimes tutor for the royal children Sylvie and Bruno—produces his Outlandish watch that controls time and permits backward time travel up to a full month.

Alas, the Outlandish watch doesn’t play much of a role in the story. Lewis Carrol tries to use it to avert a bicycle accident, and indeed the accident is annihilated, but only temporarily until the time when the watch was first set backward reoccurs. At that point, all is once again as it was with the bicyclist in a lump on the ground.

 “It goes, of course, at the usual rate. Only the time has to go with it. Hence, if I move the hands, I change the time. To move them forwards, in advance of the true time, is impossible: but I can move them as much as a month backwards—that is the limit. And then you have the events all over again—with any alterations experience may suggest.”
“What a blessing such a watch would be,” I thought, “in real life! To be able to unsay some heedless word—to undo some reckless deed! Might I see the thing done?”
“With pleasure!” said the good natured Professor. “When I move this hand back to here,” pointing out the place, “History goes back fifteen minutes!”
 


I’ve yet to find an image of the book, but here’s a Christchurch church where Watson was a minister (lostchristchurch.org.nz).

   The Decline and Fall of the British Empire,
or The Witch’s Cavern

aka The Witch’s Cavern. A Realistic and Thrilling Picture of London Society
by Henry Crocker Marriott Watson
First publication: 1890

William Furley, an Australian in 2992, describes the fallen state of the British Empire and then travels to England where he meets a version of Alice’s White Rabbit and falls down a hole to 1890 London where he tries to warn people about the coming collapse.


No Time Travel.
Move along.
A.D. 2000 by Alvarado M. Fuller [long sleep ]
aka Back to Life (A.D. 2000): A Thrilling Novel

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce, The San Francisco Examiner, 13 Jul 1890 [just a dream ]
aka “A Dead Man’s Dream”



   “Christmas Every Day”
by W.D. Howells
First publication: Christmas Every Day and Other Stories, 1892

A papa tells his little girl about another little girl who asks the Christmas Fairy to make it Christmas every day. She gets her wish, but is it time travel? Probably not in this case since they all continue to live through the year with December 26 being Christmas and Dec 27 being Christmas and December 28 being Christmas . . . And yet, I want to put this story in the Big Boys’ time travel list (rather than the promising-but-not-time-travel list) simple because Howells’ story was the 19th century departure point for so many other repeating-holiday stories a century later.

 After a while turkeys got to be awfully scarce, selling for about a thousand dollars apiece. They got to passing off almost anything for turkeys—even half-grown hummingbirds. And cranberries—well they asked a diamond apiece for cranberries. All the woods and orchards were cut down for Christmas trees. After a while they had to make Christmas trees out of rags. But there were plenty of rags, because people got so poor, buying presents for one another, that they couldn't get any new clothes, and they just wore their old ones to tatters. They got so poor that everybody had to go to the poorhouse, except the confectioners, and the storekeepers, and the book-sellers, and they all got so rich and proud that they would hardly wait upon a person when he came to buy. It was perfectly shameful! 




   “The Green Door”
by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
First publication: 1893

Young Letitia Hopkins, ungrateful orphaned and living with her great-great-aunt, is told to never even think about going through the little green door at the back of the house—a door that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere because there no egress on the outside where the door should come out. So, of course (this being a proper morality tale), Letitia does go through the door first chance she gets, and finds herself among Injuns and her own ancestors.

I’ve seen many references to the 1910 release of The Green Door in a slim volume (Illus. in color. Moffat Yard. 75 cents net.), but a 1911 review in the New York Times indicates that the story was first published “in a periodical some eighteen years ago.” I haven’t tracked down what that periodical was, so for now I’ll just list the story as being from 1893. I see that the story also appeared a few years later in the Times itself (13 Apr 1896). The wilkinsfreeman.org site lists the 1896 publication as the first, but that contradicts the later Times review.

 It seemed awful, and impossible, but the little green door led into the past, and Letitia Hopkins was visiting her great-great-great-grandfather and grandmother, great-great-grandmother, and her great-great-aunts. 



No Time Travel.
Move along.
“John Bartine’s Watch” by Ambrose Bierce, Can Such Things Be?, 1893 [ghost story ]

“The Damned Thing” by Ambrose Bierce, New York Town Topics, 7 Dec 1893 [supernatural story ]

The essays were reprinted in this 1975 scholarly work edited by Robert Philmus and David Y. Hughes.

   The National Observer Essays
by H.G. Wells (as by Anonymous)
First story: 17 Mar 1894 - 23 Jun 1894

After his first fictional foray into time travel (“The Chronic Argonauts”), Wells anonymously published a series of seven fictionalized essays in The National Observer that contained the genesis of what was to come.
  1. Time Travelling: Possibility or Paradox? (17 Mar 1894)  
  2. The Time Machine (24 Mar 1894)  
  3. The Sunset of Mankind (28 Mar 1894)  
  4. The Refinement of Humanity: A.D. 12,203 (21 Apr 1894)  
  5. A.D. 12,203: A Glimpse of the Future (31 Apr 1894)  
  6. In the Underworld (19 May 1894)  
  7. The Time Traveller Returns (23 Jun 1894)  

 ‘Possibly not,’ said the Philosophical Inventor. ‘But now you begin to see the object of my investigations into the geometry of four dimensions. I have a vague inkling of a machine—’ 




   “The Demoiselle D’Ys”
by Robert W. Chambers
First publication: The King in Yellow, 1895

Philip, an American who becomes lost hiking in Brittany, finds himself in the company of the winsome young Jeanne who hunts on the moors and speaks the old French language of falconry that nowadays is found only in yellowed manuscripts.

 Suddenly a splendid hound dashed out of the mist in front, followed by another and another until half-a-dozen or more were bounding and leaping around the girl beside me. She caressed and quieted them with her gloved hand, speaking to them in quaint terms which I remembered to have seen in old French manuscripts. 




   The Time Machine
aka The Time Machine: An Invention
by H.G. Wells
First publication: New Review, Jan-May 1895



In which the Traveller first introduces us to his machine.

 I drew a breath, set my teeth, gripped the starting lever with both hands, and went off with a thud. 


H.G. Wells, Master Traveller

In 1919, my Grandpa Main cited H.G. Wells as the inaugural recipient of the Master Traveller Citation recognizing innovative writers for their contributions to time travel.





   The British Barbarians—A Hill-Top Novel
by Grant Allen
First publication: 1895

Bertram Ingledow, anthropologist from the future, comes to 19th century England to study the ways and rituals of the Englishman and at least one Englishwoman, the desirable Freda Monteith.

 As once the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and straightaway coveted them, even so Bertram Ingledew looked on Freda Monteith and saw at the first glance she was a woman to be desired, a soul high throned, very calm and beautiful. 




   The Barbarous Britishers—A Tip-Top Novel
by H.D. Traill
First publication: 1896

Some might claim that Grant Allen’s 1895 novel The British Barbarians was higher on the social lecturing scale than Robert Heinlein with a nubile young woman; most likely, Henry Duff Traill, biographer and worthy forebear of Monty Python, would claim so if his funny send-off of Allen’s book is any indication.

 It was a case of the angels tumbling to the daughters of men. He saw at the first sight that she was a woman to be desired, a soul high-throned, very calm and dignified, yet scrumptious withal. Like the angels, he tumbled to her, and, falling from so great a height, was instantly mashed. 



No Time Travel.
Move along.
“The Plattner Story” by H.G. Wells, New Review, Apr 1896 [4D spacial topology ]

Georges Montbard's illustration of Hyne’s story in Windsor

   “The Oldest Worship in the World: A Restoration”
by Cutcliffe Hyne
First publication: The Windsor Magazine, Nov 1897

A man on Minorea takes an unknown powder in his drink and finds himself traveling back through various wars, sieges and pirate attacks, eventually landing in a time of a prehistoric clan whose king sacrafices men to his heavenly beings.

Windsor was a far-reaching British magazine with short fiction and serials from all genres, interviews, science and other articles (such as Walter George Bell’s article about asteroids in the Nov 1897 issue), wonderful illustrations, and even photographs.

 A thought seized me that by virtue of the powder I had grown backward through all the lifetimes of men, and was alone on the island with nothing but the brutes and the birds. 


interior illustration from the first publication

   “The Man Who Could Work Miracles”
by H.G. Wells
First publication: The Illustrated London News, special summer number, 1898

When George McWhirter Fotheringay discovers that he can work miracles by sheer force of will, the results are wont to bring unexpected consequences, leading to one final miracle that invokes time travel.

 As he struggled to get his shirt over his head, he was struck with a brilliant idea. “Let me be in bed,” he said, and found himself so. “Undressed,’ he stipulated; and, finding the sheets cold, added hastily, ’and in my nightshirt—ho, in a nice soft woolen nightshirt. Ah!” he said with immense enjoyment. “And now let me be comfortably asleep . . .” 



No Time Travel.
Move along.
Dix mille ans dans un bloc de glace by Louis Boussenard [long sleep ]
English title: 10,000 Years in a Block of Ice

“The Hour Glass” by Robert Barr, San Francisco Call, 15 May 1898 [ghost story ]

Lawerence Lek’s vision of Jarry’s machine

   “Commentaire pour servir à la construction pratique de la machine à explorer le temps”
English title: How to Construct a Time Machine (translated from French)
by Alfred Jarry (as by Dr. Faustroll)
First publication: Mercure de France, Feb 1899

Inspired by Wells, Jarry’s fictional Dr. Faustroll tells exactly what’s needed to build a time machine of your very own.

 Space and Time are commensurable. To explore the universe by seeking knowledge of points in Space can be accomplished only through Time; and in order to measure Time quantita tively, we refer to Space intervals on the dial of a chronometer. Space and Time, being of the same nature, may be conceived of as different physical states of the same substance, or as differ ent modes of motion. 



No Time Travel.
Move along.
When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells [long sleep ]
aka The Sleeper Awakes

“The Conversion of the Professor: A Tale of the Fourth Dimension” by George Griffith, Pearson’s, May 1899 [despite title, no time travel ]

 


25 items are in the time-travel list for these search settings.
Thanks for visiting my time-travel page, and thanks to the many sources that provided stories and more (see the Links and Credits in the menu at the top). —Michael (
main@colorado.edu)