The Big List of Time Travel Adventures

 1 to 1899

   Memoirs of the Twentieth Century
aka Memoirs of the Twentieth Century, Vol. I.
by Samuel Madden
First publication: 24 Mar 1733

Two sources attribute the following account of Madden’s 1733 book to the 18th century English printer John Nichols. One of the sources is Dierdre Ní Chuanacháin’s Ph.D. dissertation, which attributes it to Nichols’s Literary Anecdotes; the other, which I quote here, is a handwritten note in the blank pages that precede the title page in googlebooks scanned copy of Madden’s work, attributed to Anecdotes of the Life of Mr. Wm. Bowyer:

There is something mysterious in the History of this Work; it was written by Dr. Samuel Madden, [the?] Patriot of Ireland; & addressed in an Ironical Dedication, [to] Frederick Prince of Wales. One Volume only of these Memoirs appeared, and whether any more were really intended is uncertain. A Thousand Copies were printed, with such very great dispatch that three Printers were employed on it (Bowyer, Woodfall, & Roberts,) but the whole of the Business was transacted by Bowyer, without either of the other Printers ever seeing the Author: and the Names of an uncommon number of reputable Booksellers appeared in the Title Page. The Book was finished at the Press on March 24th 17323 and 100 Copies were that day delivered to the Author: on the 29th a number of them was delivered to the several Booksellers mentioned in the Title Page: and in four days after, all that were unsold, amounting to 890 of these Copies, were recalled, and were delivered to Dr. Madden, to be destroyed. The current report is, that the Edition was suppressed on the day of publication: and tht it is now exceeding scarce is certain. The reasons for the extraordinary circumstances attending the printing and suppressing These Memoirs, are not very evident, and still remain a Mystery.

Dierdre Ní Chuanacháin suggests that the reason for the suppression was the “politcal and literary milieu” of the times. Nevertheless, at least one copy of the work survived and is hailed as the first literary work to actually write of the future, albeit as a satire and critcism of 18th century Great Britain.

 But as I am determined to give ſuch Readers and all Men, ſo full, and fair, and convincing an Account of my ſelf and that celeſtial Spirit I receivd theſe Papers from, and to anſwer all Objections ſo entirely, as to put Ignorance, and even Malice it ſelf to Silence: I am confident, the ingenuous and candid part of the World, will ſoon throw off ſuch mean narrow ſpirited Suſpicions, as unjuſt and ungenerous. 


Samuel Madden, Master Traveller

For me, the important point is that the work is presented as a series of future letters that were delivered (time travel!) to the author by “an infallible Guide,” an angel who also served to aid in the translation of the unfamiliar 20th century English to that of the current times. Is this perhaps the first definitive instance of backward time travel?


[Jul 2015]
   Anno 7603
English title: The Year 7603 (translated from Danish)
by Johan Herman Wessel
First publication: 1781, but never performed

After lovers Julie and Leander wonder how the world would be if each other had the better qualities of the opposite gender, Feen takes them forward in time to see the effects that raising children in just that way has had.

 Now my children! You wish to remake each other? Julie, you want your lover transformed into a more tender companion? And you Leander, you would rather that your Julie had a more aggressive bearing? 


Johan Herman Wessel, Master Traveller

I have read that the original play was so bad that scholars don’t even want to list it among Wessel’s works, and yet it has the first humans traveling forward in time! Most certainly deserving of a Master Traveller Citation. I am slowly working on a translation to English. Don’t hold your horses, because my understanding of idiomatic language is often confused.


[Apr 2016]
a “mégathérion” from Boitard’s 1836 article   “Paris avant les hommes”
English title: “Paris before Man” (translated from French)
by Pierre Boitard
First publication: Musée des Familles—Lectures du Soir, Jun 1836 (Part 1) and Nov 1837 (Part 2)

Everyone from Jules Verne to John Connor seems to know of Pierre Boitard’s edition of Paris avant les hommes published in 1861, two years after Boitard’s death. The 500-page tome tells the tale of a limping devil named Asmodeus who takes Boitard himself on a journey through Earth’s natural history.
What’s less well known is that 25 years earlier, Boitard’s initial version—yes, including the time-traveling Asmodeus—appeared as a 44-page, two-part article in the family magazine Musée des Familles—Lecture pour Tous. I stumbled upon this in Jean Le Loeuff’s November 2012 blog, Le Dinoblog.

 To this question, the devil burst into laughter, waking them. The female ran about on all fours, carrying under her belly the little ones, clinging with all their might; but the male uttered a fierce gutteral roar, fixed his eyes upon me, stood upright on his hind legs, and raising high his flint ax, rushed toward me with a furious leap, swinging the deadly weapon at my head.
At that moment, I uttered a cry of terror because I had no choice but to recognize exactly what kind of monster he was . . . He was a man.
 

—from the end of Part 1


Pierre Boitard, Master Traveller

This 1836 article is the earliest that I’ve spotted of a man traveling to the past. So cheers to Pierre and his well deserved Master Traveler Citation.


[Apr 2016]


   “An Anachronism;
or, Missing One’s Coach”

by Anonymous Dublin University Author
First publication: The Dublin University Magazine, Jun 1838

A man, waiting for a coach in Newcastle, finds himself taken through time and face to face with Saint Bede, whereupon a philosophical conversation about time and the future ensues.

 It must suffice then to say that, at the point where I come again into perfect possession of my consciousness, the venerable monk and I were conferring, in an easy manner, upon various points connected with his age, or with mine, and both of us having a clear understanding, and perfect recollection of the fact, that, at this same moment, he was actually living in the eighth century, and I as truly in the nineteenth; nor did this trifing difference of a thousand years or more—this break, as geologists would call it—this fault in the strata of time—perplex either of us a whit; any more than two friends are molested by the circumstance of their happening to encounter each other just as they arrive from opposite hemispheres. 


Anonymous Dublin University Author, Master Traveller

Here’s one time (of many) when I wish I did have a time machine so that I could go back to 1838 Dublin, track down the anonymous author of this story, and present him or her with a well-deserved Master Traveller Citation, which recognizes creative innovation in time travel. In his 1951 anthology, Far Boundaries, August Derleth identified this story as a forerunner of modern time travel fiction, and indeed, the hero of the story may be the first backward time-traveling human (given that Boitard’s 1836 version of Paris avant les hommes might not have included the time traveler). Even if Boitard was first, this story deserves a citation for being the first to travel back to visit an actual historical person.

The mechanism of travel in “Anachronism” is via a dream-like state, and at first there is the question of whether the traveler can interact with those in the past. But for me, the discussion he has with Saint Bede puts that question to bed and also guarantees the anonymous author a Master Traveler Citation.


[Aug 2013]














   “A Christmas Carol”
by Charles Dickens
First publication: 1843

Some time ago in my pursuit of time travel, I discovered that I often ran across stories that might well have had time travel based on reviews that I’d read or the title of the story or even that most dreadful of deceits: an author deceiving the poor reader! But in the end, many such stories contained no real time travel. Of necessity, The Big List of Time Travel Adventures rejected such stories for membership, and that was no problem.

However another problem did occur: In my dotage, I kept coming back to these Pretenders, forgetting that they had already been cast aside. In order to avoid wasting valuable List-Creation Time, I decided to catalog the rejects in a separate list of their own, and that separate list appears after the end of the real time travel list.

And yet, even after many discussions of these points with my Grandpa, both of us kept struggling with A Christmas Carol. It’s not hard to see why. Clearly there was a trip to the past:

They walked along the road, Scrooge recognising every gate, and post, and tree; until a little market-town appeared in the distance, with its bridge, its church, and winding river. Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting towards them with boys upon their backs, who called to other boys in country gigs and carts, driven by farmers. All these boys were in great spirits, and shouted to each other, until the broad fields were so full of merry music, that the crisp air laughed to hear it!  

Now if that’s not time travel, what is? Ah . . . “Not so fast!” says Ghost!

“These are but shadows of the things that have been,’ said the Ghost. “They have no consciousness of us.”  

Even Ghost Himself admits there’s no interaction with the past. Observation is permitted, but not interaction. They might as well be watching a movie! In general, if you can’t interact with the past and the past can’t see you, then that’s not time travel.

Fair enough, but what about Future Ghost? Isn’t He bringing information from the future to Scrooge? Transfer of information from the future to the past may be boring compared to people-jumping, but it is time travel, so A Christmas Carol must be granted membership in the list after all, don’t you think?

Ah, not so fast again! At one point, Scrooge asks a pertinent question:

“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said Scrooge, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”  

The answer is critical to whether time travel occurs. The difference between things that May Be and things that Will Be is like the difference between Damon Knight and Doris Day: Both are quite creative, but (as far as I know) there’s only one you go to for time travel.

The scarey Future ghost never answers the question, and moreover, Scrooge appears intent on not having the future he sees come true. So, I want to say that Scrooge saw only a prediction or a prophecy or a vision of a possible future—none of which are time travel.

For many years, I stuck by my guns: Viewing the past is not time travel. Visions of a possible future are not time travel. Scrooge was not a time traveler. And yet, Dickens’ planted a seed wherein a major character seemed to go backward or forward in time and even more(!) return to the present, and that seed grew into the industry we now call time travel. For this reason and more, Scrooge and Marley and Tiny Tim, too, have earned their place on The Big List of Time Travel Adventures. So in my old age, perhaps wondering when my ghosts shall visit, I have new guidelines:

  • Reconstructing the past from data that is readily available in the present is not time travel. But if a noninteractive vision of the past is presented with even the barest feeling of time travel, then such a story is awarded a spot on the Big List.
  • Similarly, it’s possible to construct a prediction of the future from data in the present. If we lived in the pre-quantum world of classical physics, we could even strengthen the word prediction, claiming that we have computed what Leibnitz called “the possibility to calculate everything . . .” And yet, once again, I find that noninteractively viewing the future (or a possible future timeline) is sufficiently chrono-atypical that in the absense of any explicit calculating machinery, such stories are now liberally allowed on the Big List.

 If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die. 


Charles Dickens, Master Traveller

Given the evolution of my understanding of time travel described above, Dickens has sentenced me to many happy hours of additional work as the keeper of the Big List, for which I offer my thanks and now officially cite him as an undisputed Master Traveller.


[Dec 1970]
An 1867 issue of Godey’s   “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains”
by Edgar Allan Poe
First publication: Godey’s Lady’s Book, Apr 1844

A sick man tells of a walk he took in November of 1845 only to find himself in a pitched battle in 1780 Calcutta, but Dr. Templeton, who listens to the story, already knows how it turns out.

 Busied in this, I walked on for several hours, during which the mist deepened around me to so great an extent that at length I was reduced to an absolute groping of the way. And now an indescribable uneasiness possessed me— 


Edgar Allan Poe, Master Traveller

Poe’s creativity and innovation was stronger in his horror stories than his ventures into time travel, but even so, he deserves his Master Traveller Citation for the first instance of a time traveler visiting—and affecting!—a historical event. Yet the effect on the event is not a change: Indeed, he caused it to happen in exactly the way that history recorded, resulting in the first of a long line of stories time-travel stories in a single-stream universe in which a traveler may go to the past and do various actions, but only if he did in fact do them all along.


[Dec 2011]


   Le monde tel qu’il sera
English title: The World as It Shall Be (translated from French)
by Émile Souvestre
First publication: 1846

Mssr. John Progrès, a diminutive god, whisks a young romantic couple to a satirical anti-utopia in the year 3000.

 He was comfortably seated on a machine of English Make, the smoke of which enveloped him in clouds of fantastic shape, and on the instrument panel there was a daguerreotype from the workshops of M. le Chevalier. Maurice, a little alarmed at first at this sudden apparition, was reassured by his mild appearance. He looked boldly at the little visitor and asked him who he was. 


Émile Souvestre, Master Traveller

As you can see by O. Penguilly’s drawing, Émile Souvestre came within half a screwdriver’s turn of inventing the time machine, but the steam-powered machine that Progrès rides seems to be merely a means of transport through space. When it comes to taking the couple through time, that’s accomplished via sleep. So no credit for devising the first time machine, but I’ll give him credit for inventing Steampunkers of the Year 3000, and that’ll be the basis of his Master Traveller Citation.


[Apr 2016]
   “Mellonta Tauta”
aka On Board Balloon “Skylark”
by Edgar Allan Poe
First publication: Godey’s Lady’s Book, Feb 1849

So just how did those letters from the year 2848 make their way back to Poe if not for time travel?

 To the Editors of the Ladys Book:—

I have the honor of sending you, for your magazine, an article which I hope you will be able to comprehend rather more distinctly than I do myself. It is a translation, by my friend, Martin Van Buren Mavis, (sometimes called the “Toughkeepsie Seer,”) of an odd-looking MS. which I found, about a year ago, tightly corked up in a jug floating in the Mare Tenebrarum—a sea well described by the Nubian geographer, but seldom visited now-a-days, except for the transcendentalists and divers for crotchets.
 

[May 2017]
frontispiece from the 1861 book, engraved by Gustave Moreau after a drawing by Boitard   Paris avant les hommes
English title: Paris before Man (translated from French)
by Pierre Boitard
First publication: 1861

Two years after Boitard’s death, a vastly expanded, 500-page version of his 1836/1838 pair of articles was published using the same title, Paris avant les hommes, and with the same time-traveling devil companion who takes Boitard back to prehistory.

 If only we were still in the time of fairies and genies, maybe I could find one good enough to tell me what the world, or only France, or Paris, or even just the Tuileries Gardens was like, ten or twelve thousand years ago, more or less. 

[Jul 2015]
   Translyvania
by Anonymous
First publication: The Cornhill Magazine, Nov 1866

The November 1866 issue of The Cornhill Magazine had a travelogue about Transylvania with an early use of the phrase “travel through time”.

 This charm of travelling would become perfect if we could travel in time as well as in space—if, like a character in one of Andersens fanciful stories, we could sometimes take a fortnight in the fifteenth century, or, still more pleasant, a leap in to the twenty-first. It is possible to accomplish this object more or less in imagination—not by reading historical novels, in which characters are always obtrusively reminding us of their nineteenth-century origin—but by a journey beyond the reach of railways and newpapers. Those are the links which always bind us down offensively to the present. The scream of an engine or a sheet of The Times carries us forcibly back to London from the ends of the earth. It is the rattling of the chain which reminds us that we are, after all, prisoners to certain conditions of space and time. But once beyond their influence we can shake ourselves fairly free. It is possible, indeed, to make “the forward flowing tide of time” recede a little too far. Sir Samuel Baker, when he was in the kingdom of Katchiba, must have felt that he was almost in a geological epoch. He was back in the period when, according to Mr. Darwin, man was just emerging out of the gorilla and learning to walk upon his hind legs. But a leap backwards for a century or two would be intensely enjoyable; and to those who can appreciate it, that is precisely the pleasure obtained by a journey in Transylvania. 

[May 2017]
   The Age of Science:
A Newspaper of the Twentieth Century

by Frances Power Cobbe (as by Merlin Nostradamus)
First publication: 1877

Published as a 50-page book, the story tells of the invention of the Prospective Telegraph and provides excerpts from a newspaper that it retrieves from a 1977 future dominated by scientific and medical super-nannies.

 By this truly wonderful invention (exquisitely simple in its machinery, yet of surpassing power) the obstacle of Time is as effectually conquered as that of Space has been for the last generation by the Electric Telegraph; and future years—even, it is anticipated, future centuries—will be made to respond to our call as promptly and completely as do now the uttermost parts of the earth wherewith the magic wire has placed us in communication. 


Frances Power Cobbe, Master Traveller

I place Frances Power Cobbe as the author of the first science fiction time travel story given that in her book a scientist invents a machine to retrieve information from the future—certainly an accomplishment worthy of a Master Traveller Citation.


[Jan 2013]
The story was reprinted in this 1973 Mitchell collection.   “An Uncommon Sort of Spectre”
by Edward Page Mitchell
First publication: The New York Sun, 30 Mar 1879

On the 1352 evening of the birth of quadruplets sons to the baroness of a Rhine castle, the baron himself entertains a traveler with memories of the coming 80 years.

 For you allow that, while ghosts out of the future are unheard of, ghosts from the past are not infrequently encountered. 

[Feb 2015]
   “The Clock That Went Backward”
by Edward Page Mitchell
First publication: The New York Sun, 18 Sep 1881

A young man and his cousin inherit a clock that takes them back to the siege of Leyden at the start of October 1574, where they affect that time as much as it has affected them. This is travel in a machine (or at least an artifact), but they have no control over the destination.

 The hands were whirling around the dial from right to left with inconceivable rapidity. In this whirl we ourselves seemed to be borne along. Eternities seemed to contract into minutes while lifetimes were thrown off at every tick. 


Edward Page Mitchell, Master Traveller

In Lost Giants of American Science Fiction, sf historian Sam Moskowitz cites Mitchell as the first to spearhead five important sf themes in his anonymously published, syndicated short stories for the newspapers. One of those themes was the idea of a mechanism (rather than a dream or trance) to take a person back in time, as presented in “The Clock That Went Backward”—the first time machine! Another time travel innovation of Mitchell was the time traveling ghost from the future in “An Uncommon Sort of Spectre,” who unlike Dickens’s ghosts could interact with the time he traveled to.


[May 2011]
   The Diothas, or A Far Look Ahead
aka Looking Forward, or the Diothas
by John Macnie (as by Ismar Thiusen)
First publication: 1883

A jilted Ismar Thiusen visits his friend Utis Estai who, through mesmerism, takes the two of them to a 96th century puritanical utopian society where he is viewed by the locals as a mentally ill man who believes he is from the 19th century.

 According to the view of things above adverted to, the different stages in the history of our race are not successive only, but are also co-existent and co-extensive with each other. Just as in a block of marble, there is contained, not one only, but every possible statue, though, of the whole number, only one at a time can be made evident to our senses; so, in a given region of space, any number of worlds can co-exist, each with its own population conscious of only that world, or set of phenomena, to which their ego is attuned. 

[Aug 2013]


   El Anacronópete
English title: The Time Ship (translated from Spanish)
by Enrique Gaspar
First publication: 1887

Mad scientist Don Sindulfo and his best friend Benjamin take off in Sindulfo’s time machine along with Sindulfo’s niece, her maid, a troop of Spanish soldiers, and a bordelloful of French strumpets for madcap adventures at the 1860 Battle of Téouan, Queen Isabella’s Spain, nondescript locales in the eleventh and seventh centuries, third-century China, the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, and a biblical time shortly after the flood. Don’t worry overly much about the twist at the end: it was still a fine romp.

A professional translation of the novel into English by Yolanda Molina-Gavilan and Andrea L. Bell was published in 2012, and after my year of Spanish at the University of Colorado, I completed my own three-year translation project in 2014.

 “One step at a time,” argued a sensible voice. “If the Anacronópete aims to undo history, it seems to me that we must be congratulated as it allows us to amend our failures.”
   “Quite right,” called a married man jammed into the front of the bus, thinking of his tiresome wife. “As soon as the ticket office opens to the public, Im booking passage to the eve of my wedding.”
 


Enrique Gaspar, Master Traveller

Enrique Gaspar was a contemporary of H.G. Wells, though there’s no indication that Wells knew of his fellow European’s Spanish novel, El Anacronópete, the first tale of a scientist inventing a time machine—to be more specific, a flying time ship several stories high.


[Dec 2011]
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. 

[Dec 2010]

   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. 

[Aug 2013]
   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.


[Dec 1968]



   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!”
 

[Jul 2015]
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.
[Jan 2015]
   “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! 

[Oct 2015]
   “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. 

[Aug 2015]
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—’ 

[Dec 2015]
   “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. 

[Jul 2015]

   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.


[Jul 1970]

   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. 

[Jul 2013]
   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. 

[Jul 2013]
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. 

[Aug 2013]
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 . . .” 

[Jun 2016]
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. 

[Aug 2015]
 

Additional Adventures (without Time Travel)

I often see potential time-travel stories that, alas, have no time travel. I track them, so that I don’t process these same chronotypical stories over and over in a time loop of my very own.
1 to 1899

 These arent the droids youre looking for . . . move along. 


 1644
“Aulicus his Dream of the Kings Sudden Comming to London” by Francis Cheynell [just a dream]



 1659
Epigone: histoire du siècle futur by Michel de Pure (as by Jacques Guttin) [despite title, no time travel]
                English title: Epigone: The History of a Future Century



 1771
Lan deux mille quatre cent quarante by Louis-Sébastien Mercier [just a dream]
                English title: Memoirs of the Year Two Thousand Five Hundred



 1819
“Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving [long sleep]



 1824
“Peter Rugg, the Missing Man” by William Austin [flying dutchman]

“Plausible Fantasies of a Journey in the 29th Century” by Faddei Bulgarin [long sleep]



 1837
“The Fountain of Yonder” by Nathaniel Hawthorne [fountain of youth]
                aka “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”



 1838
“The Year 4338, Letters from Petersburg” by V.F. Odoevski [despite title, no time travel]



 1850
“Three Sundays a Week” by Edgar Allan Poe [calendar tomfoolery]



 1856
“January First, A.D. 3000” by Anonymous [long sleep]



 1865
Sphereland by Dionys Burger [4D spacial topology]
                aka A Fantasy about Curved Spaces and an Expanding Universe



 1872
“Human Repetends” by Marcus Clarke [no definite time travel]



 1875
“The True Story of Bernard Poland’s Prophecy” by George Cary Eggleston [visions of possible futures]

“Who Is Russell?” by George Cary Eggleston [supernatural story]



 1877
“Newtonův mozek” by Jakub Arbes [despite appearances, no time travel]
                English title: “Newton’s Brain”



 1881
“Hands Off” by Edward Everett Hale (Anonymously) [alternate history]

“Pausodyne” by Grant Allen [long sleep]



 1886
A Dream of John Ball by William Morris [just a dream]

“An Inhabitant of Carcosa” by Ambrose Bierce [no definite time travel]
                aka “Can Such Things Be?”



 1887
“Newtonův mozek” by Jakub Arbes [trickery]
                English title: “Newton’s Brain”

“The Horla” by Guy de Maupassant [supernatural story]



 1888
“Mysterious Disappearances” by Ambrose Bierce [people-trapping dimensions]



 1890
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 [just a dream]
                aka “A Dead Man’s Dream”



 1891
Tourmalin’s Time Cheques by F. Anstey [just a dream]



 1892
Golf in the Year 2000 by J. McCullough [long sleep]



 1893
“The Damned Thing” by Ambrose Bierce [supernatural story]

“John Bartine’s Watch” by Ambrose Bierce [ghost story]



 1896
“The Plattner Story” by H.G. Wells [4D spacial topology]



 1898
Dix mille ans dans un bloc de glace by Louis Boussenard [long sleep]
                aka 10,000 Years in a Block of Ice

“The Hour-Glass” by Robert Barr [ghost story]



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

When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells [long sleep]
                aka The Sleeper Awakes


63 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)