Wells, H. G.: Mr. Britling Sees It Through
(researched by Ryan Welch)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

H.G. Wells, Mr. Britling Sees It Through, The Macmillan Company, September 1916.

Copyrights are held by H. G. Wells and P.F. Collier & Son Inc.

Parallel first editions published in 1916 by: Cassell and Company, M.A. Donohue & Co., and Morley-Baker.

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

First American edition was published in hardcover.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

233 leaves, pp. [10] [2] 3-443 [13]

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

This novel is neither edited nor introduced. The first ten pages include a title page, three pages about the publication and copyright of the book, five blank pages, an illustration, and a table of contents. At the end of the book, there is an unnumbered page stating that the subsequent pages contain advertisements. Six pages of advertisements then follow. Five of the advertisement pages include other works of the author and include the publisher’s name. While the sixth page advertises other works published by The Macmillan Company. Following the advertisements there are four blank pages.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

There is an illustration on the sixth unnumbered page at the beginning of the book. The illustration measures 103mm in height and 89mm in width. The illustration consists of a young woman sitting on a bench, beside a path, looking up at a young man. While an older woman, in the background, is looking in their direction. The young woman has on a blue dress and is reading. The young man is wearing a suit and holding his hat with his arms crossed. The older woman has on a blue dress as well. The colors appear to make the illustration look like a painting. There is a signature of the illustrator on the picture, however the illustrator cannot be identified.

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

The height of the page is 187mm, while the width is 130mm. As noted in section 10, not all of the pages are the same length and width. An example being page 139 of this copy has a height of 183mm and a width of about 127mm. The book is easily read, with the margins being rather large. The text width is 93mm, while being 149mm in height. With top margins on even page numbers have the book title and the top margins on odd page numbers having the chapter title. The spacing between lines is tight, but does not affect reading. The book is well printed, with only a few words having faded. The size of the font is 76R. The font is similar to Bordeaux Roman.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

The paper is white and smooth. The edges of the paper have a straight edge. The paper has some discoloration, especially around the edges. Some pages were noticed in having a faded gray discoloration down the side of the margins. Not all of the paper is the same length or width, contributing to rough edges around the book. Overall the paper has held up well over time, with only a few tears in the paper.

11 Description of binding(s)

The binding is trade cloth. The binding has a dark reddish hue and appears to be a dotted-line grain. The cover reads, MR. BRITLING SEES |  IT THROUGH | H.G. WELLS. The spine reads, MR.| BRITLING | SEES IT | THROUGH | WELLS. The spine is written horizontally.

12 Transcription of title page



13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

Information on manuscript holdings could not be found. 

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

Call number for UVa’s Special Collections: PR5774 .M52 1916e

Inside of cover, signed in cursive, with pencil, by Professor Robert E. Webb.

This copy does not have a dust jacket.

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

As of 2018, the Macmillan Company published other editions in: 1969 and 1985.   

The 1969 edition has 544 pages with a 21cm illustration.  

The 1985 edition has 433 pages and an introduction by Christopher Priest.

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

There were 19 reprintings by Macmillan and Co. as of Feb. 1917.

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

As of 2018 these are the editions by other publishers:

L. Conrad (Paris)- 1917

Scribner’s(New York)- 1926 Atlantic Edition

T. Fisher Unwin(London)- 1926

Hon-no-Tomosha(Tokyo)- 1997

Oxford(England)- 2016

Along with parallel first editions as mentioned in part one.

6 Last date in print?

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform has a 2018 edition available for print on demand.


As of 2018, the last printing of this novel, not print on demand, was in 2016, by Oxford.

Other books by H.G. Wells that are still in print: “The Time Machine”, “The Invisible Man”, “The Island of Doctor Moreau”, “The War of the Worlds” were printed in 2017 by HarperCollins Publishers (UK).


“The Island of Doctor Moreau and Other Stories”, “The Time Machine and Other Works”, “The Invisible Man and the Food of the Gods”, “The War of the Worlds and the War in the Air”, “The First Men in the Moon and A Modern Utopia”, “The Crystal Egg and Other Stories”, “Kipps and The History of Mr. Polly”, printed by Wordsworth Editions Ltd in 2017.


“The Time Machine” published in 2017 by Alma Classics.


“The War of the Worlds” published in 2017 by Value Classic Reprints.


“The Time Machine”, “The Invisible Man” published by Orion Publishing Co. (UK) in 2017.


“The Time Machine” published by Oxford University Press in 2017.

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

15 months after the release of this novel in September of 1916, 350,000 copies were sold (Alice Hackett). 

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

Judging by the book being sold at $1.50 as of September 8th, 1917, and by the total number of copies sold after 15 months of release, it can be speculated that the sales figures were roughly $525,000 (Alice Hackett and Publishers Weekly). 

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

Advertisement placed in Publishers Weekly (Sept. 2, 1916), pg. 671

H.G. Wells’ New Novel | MR. BRITLING | SEES IT THROUGH | (Ready September 20) | You know H.G. Wells. He’s the man who fore- | saw the Great War and wrote about its air battles | over seven years ago! Now Mr. Wells has written | a new novel- a very powerful novel- | MR. BRITLING SEES IT THROUGH |

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

A similar advertisement was found in the New York Times 1916 Book Review section on page 377 of September 1916. It provides a review of the novel and gives a short overview of the plot.  

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A


13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

Translated to German, French, Chinese, Swedish, Danish, and Hungarian.


[German] H.G. Wells. Mr. Britling's Weg zur Erkenntnis. Lausanne: Payot, 1917.


[French] H.G. Wells. M. Britling commence à voir clair. Paris: Payot, 1917.


[Chinese] H.G. Wells. Ming yan ren. Shang hai: Shang wu yin shu guan, 1924.


[Swedish] H.G. Wells. Mr Britling kommer till klarhet. Stockholm: Svenska Andelsförlaget 1917.


[Hungarian] H.G. Wells. Mr. Britling: regeny. Budapest: Pantheon, 1927.


[Danish] H.G. Wells. Hr. Britling og verdenskrigen. Kjøbenhavn: H. Aschehoug, 1916

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A


15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A


Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

          Herbert George Wells, commonly known by the name H.G. Wells, was born on    September 21st, 1866 in Bromley, England. H.G. Wells was one of three sons born to Sarah and Joseph Wells. Sarah was a housekeeper, and Joseph a shopkeeper, who according to Darren Harris-Fain, enjoyed playing cricket more than he enjoyed his work. H.G. Wells kindled his passion for reading when he broke his leg in 1874 (“H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells”). Wells’ formal education was limited, replaced with apprenticeships in different trades. Eventually, he was able attend school, and later attending on a scholarship. He subsequently began to write and edit for Science Schools Journal. In 1887, Wells and his cousin, Isabel Wells, fell in love. He left school in order to earn a living, and to marry Isabel. However, he became sick with Tuberculosis, later earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1890. Eventually, Wells married Isabel in 1891 after recovering from his illness. He started teaching at the University Correspondence College in 1890, and left in 1891. This is where he met his second wife, Amy Robbins. According to Harris-Fain, Robbins, a friend of Isabel’s, started to draw Wells’ attention just a few weeks after the wedding in 1891. Wells moved in with Robbins, who was a student of Wells’ at the university, in 1893 (“H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells”). It took an additional two years for Wells to divorce Isabel in 1895, coincidentally he married Robbins later that year. Kevin Dettmar states that Wells was well know for his affairs during the course of his marriages, which came to fruition later in his life (“H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells”). Wells continued his writing for Journals, this time as his source of income, until he started writing books. In 1895, at the age of twenty-nine, Wells published his first four books: Select Conversations with an Uncle, Now Extinct, and Two Other Reminiscences, The Time Machine: An Invention, The Wonderful Visit, and The Stolen Bacillus, and Other Incidents. In 1901, Wells and his wife welcomed George Wells into the world, followed by Frank Wells in 1903. He also fathered a child with Rosamund Bland in 1909, named Anne. In 1927, Amy Robbins died, and Wells went on to roam as an academic. Overall, H.G. Wells went on to publish over 100 works in his lifetime, including The Island of Doctor Moreau, War of the Worlds, and The Time Machine. As mentioned by Harris- Fain, some of Wells novels are the best and most significant forms of the science fiction genre (“H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells”). After World War I ended, Wells actively supported the League of Nations. It is implied by Harris-Fain, that writing Mr. Britling Sees it Through, may have attributed to this support (“H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells”). In the 1920s Wells became active politically, cresting with a failed run for office in Parliament. Wells died August 13th, 1946, in London, England due to an illness. Wells’ papers are located at the University of Illinois Library, Urbana-Champaign.   


Works Cited

Dettmar, Kevin J. H. "H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells." British Short-Fiction Writers, 1880-1914: The Romantic Tradition,                edited by William F. Naufftus, Gale, 1995. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 156. Literature Resource                    Center, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/H1200003829/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=007e7c0c.                            Accessed 13 Mar. 2018.

Harris-Fain, Darren. "H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells." British Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writers Before World War I,                  edited by Darren Harris-Fain, Gale, 1997. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 178. Literature Resource                    Center, link.galegroup.com.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/apps/doc/H1200007703/LitRC?                                                    u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=cbafc98b. Accessed 12 Mar. 2018.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

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