Essays & Journal Articles

books_03This list includes academic articles and relevant newspaper / magazine articles on the subjects of Invasion and Future War Literature and on early Spy Fiction.

Papers by I.F.Clarke:

Further details on the following papers can be found in I.F. Clarke – Papers

Clarke, I. F. (1965). “THE BATTLE OF DORKING, 1871-1914.” Victorian Studies 8(4): 309-327.

Clarke, I. F. (1967). “FORECASTS OF WARFARE IN FICTION, 1803-1914.” Comparative Studies in Society & History 10(1): 1-27.

Clarke, I. F. (1997). “Before and After The Battle of Dorking.” Science Fiction Studies 24(1 [71]): 33-46.

Clarke, I. F. (1997). “Future-war fiction: The first main phase, 1871-1900.” Science Fiction Studies 24(3): 387-412.

Clarke, I. F. (1997). “Trigger-happy: An evolutionary study of the origins and.” Journal of Social & Evolutionary Systems 20(2): 117.

Clarke, I. F. (1999). “The Battle of Dorking: Second Thoughts.”  Extrapolation (Kent State University Press) 40: 277-283.

Academic theses

Further details on the following papers can be found in Academic Theses

Brittenham, Rebecca L. (1994). “England’s danger”: Edwardian configurations of nation and national identity.

Bulfin, Ailise (2014) . ‘“To Arms!”: Colonial Authors and the Fiction of Invasion 1890-1914.’ PhD thesis. University of Dublin, Trinity College.

Gannon, Charles Edward. (1998). Speculative fiction: Literature of political transformation.

Hitchner, Thomas Andrew. (2010). Espionage literature and the training of the modern British hero.

Matin, A. M. (1997). Securing britain: Figures of invasion in late victorian and edwardian fiction

McCrae, Meighan Sarah C. (2008). Strategy and science fiction: Britain and the invasion scares, 1905–1909

Moon, Howard Roy (1968). The invasion of the United Kingdom: public controversy and official planning 1888-1918

Ross, Catriona (2008) Unsettled imaginings: Australian novels of Asian invasion

Stear, Roger Thomas (1987). War images and image makers in the Victorian era: Aspects of the British visual and written portrayal of war and defence.1866-1906.

Stewart, Michael D. (2012). “Stranger than fiction”: Anglo-american-german relations and rivalries through invasion literature: 1890-1914

Tempera, Mariangela. (1984). Popular literature as propaganda in the “future war” tale (1871-1915) (England, France, Germany).

Wisnicki, Adrian Stanislaw Feliks. (2003). Towards conspiracy theory: Revolution, terrorism and paranoia from victorian fiction to the modern novel

Papers by Harry Wood:

Further details at Harry Wood – Papers

Wood, H. (2013) Conservatism and the Radical Right in Edwardian Invasion-scare fiction.

Wood, H. (2013) Portraits of anxiety – the use of illustration in Edwardian invasion-scare fiction .

Wood, H. (2013) Representations of compulsory military service in Edwardian Invasion-scare fiction 1899-1914.

Wood, H. (2013) Comparisons to Rome in Edwardian language of national and imperial decline

Wood, H. (2014) Interview: Invasion Scares (Harry Wood) Strange History, February 15, 2014

Wood, H. (2014) Competing Prophets: H. G. Wells, George Griffith, and Visions of Future War, 1893-1914.

Juvenile Fiction:

There are a number of articles specifically looking at Juvenile Fiction and its impact on the attitudes of boys. For further details see: Juvenile Literature – Articles

Dunae, P. A. (1980). “Boys’ literature and the idea of empire, 1870-1914”, Victorian Studies, 24(1), 105.

Francis, A. (2007) ‘Willingly to War’: British and imperial boys’ story papers, 1905-1914

Paris, M. (2000). “Boys’ books and the Great War”. History Today, 50(11), 44.

Anglo-German Espionage by Nicholas Hiley:

Nicholas Hiley has published a series of papers on the reality of espionage – further details at: Papers on the reality of Anglo-German espionage activity

Hiley, N. (1983), ‘The Failure of British Espionage against Germany, 1907-1914’, Historical Journal, Vol. 26, No. 4 (1983): 867-889.

Hiley, N. (1985), ‘The Failure of British Counter-Espionage against Germany, 1907-1914’, Historical Journal, Vol. 28, No. 4 (1985): 835-862.

Hiley, N. (1988), ‘Spying for the Kaiser’, History Today, No. 6 (1988): 37.

Hiley, N. (2006), ‘Entering the Lists: Mi5’s Great Spy Round-up of August 1914’, Intelligence & National Security, Vol. 21, No. 1 (2006): 46-76.

Hiley, N. (2010), ‘Re-Entering the Lists: Mi5’s Authorized History and the August 1914 Arrests’, Intelligence & National Security, Vol. 25, No. 4 (2010): 415-452.

Other Articles & Papers

Aan de Wiel, J. (2012) “German Invasion and Spy Scares in Ireland, 1890s-1914: Between Fiction and Fact”, Etudes Irlandaises, 37-1, pp. 25-40

This paper discusses the reality and literature of invasion scares with specific reference to Ireland.

Bulfin, A. (2015) , ‘“To Arms!”: Invasion Narratives and Late-Victorian Literature’, Literature Compass, 12:9 (Sep 2015): 482-96.

Hampshire, J. (undated) “‘Spy Fever’ in Britain, 1900 to 1914.” Historian, Historical Association (subscription required)

The decade and a half prior to the First World War saw Britain experience a virulent, some might say sordid phenomenon that has been referred to as `spy fever.’ This article traces the roots of spy fever, and examines its nature, before assessing its effects on Britain between 1900 and the outbreak of war in 1914.

Hitchner, T. (2010). “Edwardian Spy Literature and the Ethos of Sportsmanship: The Sport of Spying.” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 53: 413-430.

Presents literary criticism which discusses English spy literature of the early 20th century. The article considers why spy fiction that depicted British spies as heroes and foreign spies as enemies was so popular among readers at the time. Several spy novels are discussed, including “Two Women” by Max Pemberton and “The Riddle of the Sands” by Erskine Childers.

(Also see details of Hitchner’s thesis Espionage literature and the training of the modern British hero)

Hughes, M & Wood, H (2014). ‘Crimson nightmares: tales of invasion and fears of revolution in early twentieth-century Britain’, Contemporary British History. July 2014

The invasion literature written in the years before 1914, warning against the danger of an attack by Germany, often reflected anxieties about domestic social and political changes as much as developments abroad. In the years after 1918, Soviet Russia increasingly replaced Germany as a focus for concern in a new ‘invasion literature’, which fretted about the possibility of Moscow seeking to foment class war in Britain. Numerous ‘Tales of the Future’ were published describing imaginary scenarios in which external enemies sought to promote domestic unrest in order to make Britain more vulnerable to invasion. These narratives articulated a diffuse sense of popular anxiety about the fragility of the status quo and its vulnerability to challenges emanating both at home and from abroad.

Keep, C. J. (1990). “Fearful Domestication: Future-War Stories and the Organization of Consent, 1871-1914.” Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 23(3): 1-16.

In first weeks of August 1872 (sic), German troops landed in force on the beaches of the southern coast of England near Brighton. Having suffered years of neglect by LiberaI governments that refused to allocate the necessary funds for arms expenditures, the British fleet had been defeated days before by the technologically advanced enemy. Only a few battalions of British Regulars stood to defend the Isles, their numbers depleted by the demands of policing over-extended empire. The several thousand enthusiastic but under-trained and ill- equipped Volunteers proved more of a liability than a support to the Regulars, and the defenders were forced back to a final stand on the chalk-hills outside of Dorking. ….
This fictional history of the invasion Of Britain was the vision of George Tomkyns Chesney, a Lieutenant-Colonel of the Royal Engineers who was concerned about the state of the nation’s home defenses. Published in the May 1871 edition of Blackwood’s Magazine, Chesney’s story, “The Battle Of Dorking,” quickly became the center of a heated debate concerning national defense. By June the Story had sold some 80,000 copies as a pamphlet, and public consternation reached a fever pitch.

Kemp, S., et al. (2005). Invasion scare stories. The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction, Oxford University Press.

Kemp, S., et al. (2005). Spies of the Kaiser: Plotting the Downfall of England. The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction, Oxford University Press.

Kemp, S. and C. M. D. Trotter (2005). spy fiction. The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction, Oxford University Press.

Kirkwood, P. M. (2012), ‘The Impact of Fiction on Public Debate in Late Victorian Britain: The Battle of Dorking and the “Lost Career” of Sir George Tomkyns Chesney’, Graduate History Review, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2012.  Available at:

This article re-examines the impact of The Battle of Dorking (1871)—a seminal work of British “speculative fiction”—on print and political debates throughout the 1870s and beyond. In doing so, it also re-examines the military, educational and political career of Dorking’s author, Sir George Tomkyns Chesney, and finds him to be a more substantial figure than most previous scholarship suggests.

Knightley, P. (2013) “Working for us or themselves?”, British Journalism Review, Vol. 24, Issue 4 December 2013

The article focuses on the history of British and global intelligence agencies, security services, and spying organisations. The author discusses how agencies, including Britain’s Military Intelligence Section 5 (MI5), Military Intelligence Section 6 (MI6), and U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) emerged, comments on their funding, and talks about the number of employees they hire. Special attention is paid to the stories of writer William Tufnell Le Queux in British newspaper “Daily Mail.”

Marwick, A. (1969). “Book Review – Edwardian Turn of Mind, Hynes.” Victorian Studies(4): 471.

Matin, A. M. (1997). “”We Aren’t German Slaves Here, Thank God”: Conrad’s Transposed Nationalism and British Literature of Espionage and Invasion.” Journal of Modern Literature 21(2): 251-280.   Relates Conrad’s work to themes in invasion literature.

Matin, A. M. (2011). “The creativity of war planners: armed forces professionals and the pre-1914 British invasion-scare genre.” ELH, Volume 78, Number 4, Winter 2011: 801-831.

The article presents literary criticism of several books in the British invasion-scare genre, including “The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer” by George Chesney, “The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service” by Erskine Childers, and “The Invasion of England: Told Twenty Years After” by William Francis Butler. Particular focus is given to texts authored by armed forces professionals prior to World War I and their relationship to the actual events of the war.

Matin, A. M. (2011). “Scrutinizing ‘The Battle of Dorking’: the royal united service institution and the mid-victorian invasion controversy.” Victorian Literature and Culture(2): 385.

The first major example in what would become a long line of popular pre-1914 British invasion-scare narratives was the inflammatory 1871 tale The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer. Through its vivid depiction of a German invasion and conquest of Britain, this story was designed to serve as a warning to Britons about the necessity of securing the nation’s defenses. The dramatic impact of this work on the Victorian reading public and the political culture of the era has been treated by a number of scholars, most notably I. F. Clarke. Yet little attention has been accorded to the reaction it elicited from the professional peers of its author, Lieutenant-Colonel George Chesney. This interdisciplinary essay – which joins the study of literature with military history and politics – seeks to shed new light on the circumstances surrounding this extraordinarily influential tale, as well as on the genre it popularized, in large part by examining its reception by British officers. It begins by describing the tale’s prehistory and emergence into widespread popularity and then evaluates the work’s reception within armed forces circles. Some of the most trenchant assessments of this literary text, it turns out, were delivered within the austere confines of the Royal United Service Institution, a body whose meetings functioned as the crucible in which British military and naval judgments were forged.

McKay, S. (2008). “A quantum of respect for the forgotten master.” Spectator 308(9401): 24-24.

The article focuses on the works of author William Tufnell Le Queux, one of the Britain’s most popular authors. Le Queux had started out as a journalist and at some state a diplomat. It discusses several novels of Le Queux, which includes “The Man From Downing Street,” “Her Majesty’s Minister,” and “England’s Peril.”

Moran, C. R. and Johnson, R. (2010) “In the Service of Empire: Imperialism and the British Spy Thriller 1901–1914”, Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 2 (June 2010)

In the decade before the First World War, the British spy thriller was a cultural phenomenon drawing large and expectant readerships across all classes and catapulting its authors to prominence as spokesmen for then widely prevalent concerns about imperial strength, national power, and foreign espionage. Three hundred is a conservative estimate of the number of spy novels that went into print between 1901 and 1914. This article reflects upon some of the seminal publications from the period, including Rudyard Kipling’s Kim (1901), the tale of a streetwise orphan who trains as a spy and becomes embroiled in the intelligence duel on India’s North-West Frontier; Erskine Childers’s The Riddle of the Sands (1903), the story of two gentleman yachtsmen who, cruising in the North Sea, stumble upon a secret German plot to invade England; and William le Queux’s Spies of the Kaiser (1909), a dire prophecy of German espionage in advance of an invasion.

Nuttall, C. (2012, 06/06/2012). “Paranoid Fantasies: An Overview of Invasion Literature.” Alternative History.

Paris, M. (1993). “Fear of flying the fiction of war 1886-1916.” History Today 43(6): 29.

Examines how science fiction and popular literature shaped personal prejudices and political agendas about `destruction from the skies.’

Price, T. J. (1996). “Spy Stories, Espionage and the Public in the Twentieth Century.” Journal of Popular Culture 30(3): 81-89.

Examines the origins and history of spy fiction with a focus on the interrelationship between spy novels and international espionage. Erskine Childers published the first thriller, ‘The Riddle of the Sands,’ in 1903, and the British established the first permanent spy agency in 1909. Through the years, this journey of fiction and fact fueled the fictional genre of the thriller and fashioned writers from former espionage agents. The author analyzes the spy as a 20th-century phenomenon and questions the future of the spy and the spy novel in the aftermath of the end of the Cold War.

Reiss, T. (2005). “Imagining the worst.” New Yorker 81(38): 106-114.

The article discusses the manner in which the literary genre of invasion fiction anticipated the modern world. The invasion of England was depicted by the book “The Battle of Dorking,” by George Tomkyns Chesney. The fiction described the invasion of England by German-speaking people. The British government attempted to downplay the impending threat of invasion as depicted in the book. Other books on invasion convinced British military officials that England was rife with German spies in 1909. This lead to the creation of the domestic intelligence service M15.

Reiss, T. (2005). “Life and Letters: Imagining the Worst  – The novels that foresaw our world.” New Yorker: Vol. 81, Issue 38. 106-115.

Ross, C. (2009) Paranoid Projections: Australian Novels of Asian Invasion, Antipodes, Vol. 23, No. 1, Special Issue: Fear in Australian Literature and Film (June 2009), pp. 11-16

This article examines the most substantial and detailed textual expression of Australia’s ongoing fear of Asian invasion: the sizeable body of popular fiction novels that depict the actualization of the invasion event and provide grim warnings of Australia’s potentially Asianized future. These formulaic novels flesh out the stock elements of the Asian-invasion narrative -a detailed set of discourses centering on Australian vulnerability and Asian menace – to provide instructive tales of a future Australia riven by race war. First emerging in the late nineteenth century, novels of Asian invasion told of the now stereotypical “hordes from the north” spilling down upon a complacent and underpopulated white Australia. They are urgent, paranoid texts that exhibit the anxieties of belonging and tenure that haunt a settler nation far from its imperial center. Interestingly, despite the overtly racialist discourse central to these narratives, novels basically of this sort have continued to be written throughout the twentieth century….

Ryan, W. M. (1980). “The Invasion Controversy of 1906-1908: Lieutenant-Colonel Charles à Court Repington and British Perceptions of the German Menace.” Military Affairs 44(1): 8-12.

Before World War I, Great Britain periodically experienced an invasion scare. Perhaps the most significant and representative of these was spurred by Lieutenant-Colonel Charles à Court Repington, the colorful military correspondent of ‘The Times.’ Repington attempted to utilize an invasion alarm as a device to induce the adoption of military conscription. Although unsuccessful, it did prompt an investigation and was important for shaping both British military preparations and the reading public’s perception of Germany’s intentions.

Seed, D. (1992) .”Erskine Childers and the German Peril”, German Life & Letters 45:1 Jan 1992

Gives a detailed description of the background to the The Riddle of the Sands and Childer’s motivation.

Stafford, D. A. T. (1981). “Spies and gentlemen: the birth of the British spy novel, 1893-1914.” Victorian Studies 24: 489.

Vaninskaya, A. (2016), “Russian Nihilists and the Prehistory of Spy Fiction”

Although the rise of modern British spy fiction is usually dated to the Edwardian period, with the names of Kipling, Conrad and Buchan among the first to be mentioned, the genre owes its existence to a little-noted precursor in late Victorian popular literature: the Russian Nihilist romance. Many of the ideological and formal aspects of the genre can be traced back to the tales of police espionage, terrorist revolutionaries, and double agents that titillated audiences in the last decades of the nineteenth century. In the 1880s and 90s, the age-old literary figure of the spy underwent a number of transformations that would establish its new meanings for the new century.

Secondary Sources regarding developments in warfare technology and strategies:

Breemer, J.S. (2010) Defeating the U-boat: Inventing Antisubmarine Warfare

In Defeating the U-boat: Inventing Antisubmarine Warfare, Newport Paper 36, Jan S. Breemer tells the story of the British response to the German submarine threat. His account of Germany’s “asymmetric” challenge (to use the contemporary term) to Britain’s naval mastery holds important lessons for the United States today, the U.S. Navy in particular. The Royal Navy’s obstinate refusal to consider seriously the option of convoying merchant vessels, which turned out to be the key to the solution of the Uboat problem, demonstrates the extent to which professional military cultures can thwart technical and operational innovation even in circumstances of existential threat. Although historical controversy continues to cloud this issue, Breemer concludes that the convoying option was embraced by the Royal Navy only under the pressure of civilian authority. Breemer ends his lively and informative study with some general reflections on military innovation and the requirements for fostering it.