Papers

Essays & Journal Articles

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This 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:

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

The Battle of Dorking,” a short story by Sir George Tomkyns Chesney published in ‘Blackwood’s Magazine’ in 1871, depicted an imaginary German invasion of England. Chesney, a lieutenant colonel of engineers, sought to arouse public awareness of England’s military unpreparedness. He was following in a tradition of alarmist writing since 1844, when it was first realized that the steamship made England vulnerable to invasion; his originality lay in his use of realistic fiction. The story was widely read; it provoked a series of replies in England and was translated into several foreign languages. Chesney did not achieve his object of strengthening the British Army, but his work set a precedent for other writers. The genre of the fictional future war was established as a means of presenting arguments for stronger armies and navies, and predictive war epics appeared in several countries in the years before 1914.

Clarke, I. F. (1965). “The Shape of Wars to Come”, History Today, Vol. 15, Issue 2 108-116

A unique study of the short stories and novels written during 1871-1914 by British, French, and German writers on future wars. Special attention is given to works written in the period 1900-10.

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

Analyzes warfare in 19th century European fiction and suggests that this fiction “provides a remarkable means of estimating the rate of change in European attitudes to war.” Fiction writers, particularly after the publication of George T. Chesney’s ‘Battle of Dorking’ (1871), presented the position that “war would continue to be a series of brief but spectacular events in which the individual could expect to play a conspicuous part.” Few writers thought the new military technology would change the nature of warfare.

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.

Presents information on various science fiction novels which deals with wars and destruction between 1871 and 1900. Reference to futuristic fiction books by Francis Cheynell; Information on books written by other authors.

The Tale of the War-to-come-from Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove to The Invasion of England in 1803-is immediately recognizable as the most self-contained area of future fiction, since the basic propositions of these projected accounts of wars still-to-come derive from the political or technological possibilities of their day. They first began to affect the thinking of nations after the extraordinary success of Chesney’s Battle of Dorking in 1871. That warning to the British people was an immediate reaction to the new kind of warfare revealed in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870; and it proved to be an ideal model for the many tales of “the next great war” that became a familiar means of anticipating technological advances in warfare and of presenting arguments for bigger fleets and greater armies. From 1871 to 1914, as the major European powers advanced towards a conflict all expected, a continuous stream of these anticipations gave their readers highly selective accounts of salutary defeats or well-deserved victories in “the next great war” that would be fought between one or another of the international groupings of that time. With the emergence of the mass press in the 1890s, this future-war fiction became a favored means of warning a nation of the urgent need for more troops or more ships. In a most ironic way, however, these anticipations of wars-to-come were grounded in the assumption that, when the Great War began in earnest, it would be an old-style affair of decisive fleet actions and one-day infantry engagements.

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

Explores the tale of future war in modern fiction. First major example of tales of the war of the future; Monodic nature of the future war story; Initial formulation of the evolutionary process of the advent of future war fiction; Author’s view about the reality of war-to-come fiction and the reality of history.

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

Focuses on the success of the publication of the science fiction `The Battle of Dorking, 1871,’ by George Tomkyns Chesney. Publication of `The Battle of Dorking’ in `Blackwood’s Magazine’; Factors influencing the success of Chesney’s stories; Characterization of the implications of criminal carelessness in the story; Translations of the story into several languages.

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.

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

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

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:

Harry Wood, a PhD student at University of Liverpool, is researching and has recently written a number of articles on Edwardian Invasion-Scare Literature.

Wood, H. (2013) Conservatism and the Radical Right in Edwardian Invasion-scare fiction. academia.edu http://www.academia.edu/2447653/Conservatism_and_the_Radical_Right_in_Edwardian_Invasi on-scare_fiction

Wood, H. (2013) Portraits of anxiety – the use of illustration in Edwardian invasion-scare fiction . academia.edu https://www.academia.edu/5223484/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. academia.edu https://www.academia.edu/5223466/Representations_of_compulsory_military_service_in_Edwa rdian_Invasion-scare_fiction_1899-1914

Wood, H. (2014) Interview: Invasion Scares (Harry Wood) Strange History, February 15, 2014 http://www.strangehistory.net/2014/02/15/interview-harry-wood-and-invasion-scares/

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

What I would like to do today is to think about H G Wells in one of his most celebrated guises – as a prophet of future war. I would like to do this in an indirect sense, however, by exploring another popular Edwardian author of future-war and invasion-scare novels, George Griffith. In effect, I would like to emphasise the dissimilarity of Wells from Griffith, and by extension, the general authorship of future-war fiction. Wells’s shrewd capacity for predicting the impact of modern technology on war was rooted in his progressive relationship with the present, a relationship in direct contrast to the typical, reactionary author of future-war narratives. I will begin with a brief summary of the future-war genre, before exploring the life and literary output of George Griffith. I will finish by comparing two works, The War in the Air by Wells and The World Peril of 1910 by Griffith, emphasising how these visions differ, and what this can be said to say about their respective authors. [https://www.academia.edu/8583236/Competing_Prophets_H._G._Wells_George_Griffith_and_ Visions_of_Future_War_1893-1914 ]

Further material from him is provided on his website: http://invasionscares.wordpress.com/

Ailise Bulfin and Harry Wood have written an article on Le Queux for Critical Survey, entitled ‘William Le Queux, Master of Misinformation’

Papers by Dr Ailise Bulfin:

‘To Arms!’: Invasion Narratives and Late‐Victorian Literature, Literature CompassVolume 12, Issue 9 First published: 03 September 2015

Abstract: This article introduces readers to the fiction of invasion, a paranoid literary phenomenon that responded to widespread social concerns about the possible invasion of Britain by an array of hostile foreign forces in the period between 1870 and 1914. It begins with an overview of the development of this relatively unknown body of work in the late‐Victorian and Edwardian periods, charting assumptions of imminent large‐scale war, fascination with the technology of warfare and the marked participation of military men who used the fiction to agitate for increased defence spending. While this alarmist brand of popular fiction provoked considerable contemporary commentary, modern critical engagement with it has been somewhat limited. Beginning in the 1960s and dominated by the work of the master bibliographer I. F. Clarke, the initial scholarly response necessarily took the form of classification and survey and evinced particular interest in adjudging the accuracy of fictional predictions about future war. More recent scholarship is concerned with reading the fiction in the context of its own times, probing its relationship with external imperial factors and internal domestic concerns and its effectiveness as a propaganda tool. In addition to offering an overview of this line of enquiry, this article seeks to broaden the understanding of the invasion narrative in fin‐de‐siècle popular fiction, drawing lines out to the recurrence of the invasion theme across a broad range of genres and modes exceeding that of future war fiction and including so‐called ‘yellow peril’ narratives, crime and detective fiction and the gothic. In conclusion, a number of avenues complementing the textual and the historical are suggested for future exploration.

Ailise has edited a collection of essays – authored by herself, Harry Wood, Roger Stearn, Anthony Taylor, Michael Matin, Brett Holman and Michael Hughes – titled William Le Queux, Master of Misinformation: Populism, Invasion Scares and War Propaganda in Britain, 1880–1920.

https://www.berghahnjournals.com/view/journals/critical-survey/32/1-2/critical-survey.32.issue-1-2.xml

Derek Linney has published a couple of paper analysing the Invasion Literature genre. They can be viewed under Analysis.

Juvenile Fiction:

There are a number of articles specifically looking at Juvenile Fiction and its impact on the attitudes of boys:

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

In 1902 Frank Bullen, novelist and adventurer, that every British boy was a confirmed imperialist. So deep was the imperial faith, he said, that no youth would dare enter a school and “speak against the empire.” Were a boy to do so, Bullen noted approvingly, “he would promptly be knocked down.” Bullen was probably close to the truth, for in the late nineteenth and the early part of the twentieth century most British youths were acutely aware of their imperial heritage. They could scarcely have been otherwise. At schools, in church groups, in recreational associations at almost every turn boys were exposed to the imperial idea. Of the many sources of imperial sentiment that pervaded Victorian-Edwardian boy life, however, few were as prominent or as inspiring as popular literature, every Christmas hundreds of juvenile adventure novels appeared, novels that romanticized and glorified the exploits of British empire builders. Between times the ardor of young patriots was fanned by dozens of illustrated periodicals which provided readers of all social classes with an enticing array of imperialistic articles and tales. The adventure novels sold in their thousands; the penny weeklies in their millions.

Francis, A. (2007) ‘Willingly to War’: British and imperial boys’ story papers, 1905-1914 http://www.dnwfriends.nzl.org/dnwbooks/nba10.html

Provides a somewhat different perspective by looking at literature aimed at a juvenile audience through ‘Boy’s story papers’. Written from a New Zealand perspective it nonetheless includes both local and British based publications.

An examination of Edwardian boys’ story papers demonstrates not only a fundamental shift in the traditions of juvenile literature but also the attitudes of Britons towards their continental neighbours. France, Britain’s traditional foe, had been replaced with a new, more dynamic and dangerous threat – Germany. Between the end of the Boer War in 1902 and the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, publishers of papers such as Boy’s Own Paper (BOP), Chums, and Boy’s Friend Library began to reflect changes in political, social and cultural attitudes by presenting both the British Empire as one undergoing constant challenges to its supremacy, and Germany as the source of this undeserved provocation. German characters in stories were portrayed as humourless, militaristic, and bullying, in direct contrast to Britons around the world who were viewed as honourable, just and fair.

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

In September 1914, nineteen-year-old Roland Leighton wrote to his close friend Vera Brittain, “I feel I am meant to take some active part in this war. It is to me a very fascinating thing -something, if often horrible, yet very ennobling and very beautiful, something whose elemental reality raises it above the reach of cold theorising. You will call me a militarist. You may be right.”  Leighton, like most other young men of his age, had grown to manhood under the spell of the pleasure culture of war — the experience of war transformed into romantic and chivalric stories for the entertainment of the young, and which had become increasingly common during the later nineteenth century. These fictions, however, were not only a source of exciting and escapist adventure, but promoted patriotism, manliness and a simplistic imperial worldview that emphasised duty and the need for sacrifice if the British Empire was to endure. They indoctrinated their readers with the credo that an Englishman was more than a match for any mere foreigner; that war was a game, and that battle was an exciting experience in which young men could demonstrate their loyalty to the motherland and find fame and honour. In the popular novels of G.A. Henty, Captain ES. Brereton, Herbert Strang, Percy F. Westerman and Robert Leighton, and in the pages of The Boy’s Own Paper, Pluck, The Boy’s Friend and countless other story papers, young men were captivated by thrilling tales of the little wars of empire such as With Spear and Assegai, Fighting the Matabele, With Kitchener in the Soudan or One of the Fighting Scouts. Other stories related the exciting events of imaginary future wars as the Russian hordes or the legions of the Kaiser invaded Britain and were only defeated at the last possible moment by English pluck. Indeed, so many of these tales appeared in the two decades before 1914, that many young readers were convinced that a great European war was virtually inevitable.

Michael Paris has also written a book on the subject:  Over the top: the Great War and juvenile literature in Britain

Anglo-German Espionage by Nicholas Hiley:

Nicholas Hiley has published a series of 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.

A climate of spy-hysteria dominated not only public discourse in England in the period 1907-14, but also the counsels of the War Office’s German intelligence subsection, whose officers remained convinced that the Germans were planning an invasion of England despite the naval infeasibility of such a plan. They convinced themselves on flimsy evidence that the few genuine German spies in England were only a small part of a vast network doing advance work for the German assault. Their self-delusion fostered public fear and distrust of the Germans.

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

The nearly complete failure of British military intelligence to alert Britain to German preparations for World War I, including the possibility of Germany’s invading Great Britain, was due to the extraordinary restraints placed on British spies and intelligence services. They were limited to answering specific questions, which were not often relevant to pertinent information.

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

Popular obsession with German espionage in the early 1900s proved to be well-founded, as Nicholas Hiley shows in an examination of the pre-war activities of a group of agents controlled by the ‘Kaiser’s Spymaster’.

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.

One of the most famous successes of the British Security Service, popularly known as MI5, was its great spy round-up of August 1914. According to all previous histories, official and unofficial, Vernon Kell, the first head of MI5, masterminded the arrest of 21 out of the 22 German agents working in Britain, crippling the German intelligence network within hours of the outbreak of the First World War. The event is still celebrated by MI5, but a careful study of the recently-opened records shows it to be a complete fabrication. This article examines the six surviving lists of suspects to show how and why MI5 created and perpetuated this remarkable lie.

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.

The 2009 Authorized History of MI5 carried a new defence of its August 1914 operation, in which Vernon Kell, its first Director, supposedly scored a coup by capturing all 21 German agents working in Britain. The Authorized History went against the version of events given in my article ‘Entering the Lists’, published by this journal in 2006, and backed up its case with a new arrest list. This article considers that new list, and its supposed origins in an MI5 document from 1931. Once again it demonstrates the impossibility of turning MI5’s foundation myth into history, by showing that not only is the account in the Authorized History internally inconsistent, but the arrest list consists of 22 names arbitrarily selected from later case summaries, then wrongly footnoted to an MI5 document which contains a different list of 21 names. Indeed, by claiming authority from the only arrest list known to have been challenged within MI5 itself, theAuthorized History merely reinforces the conclusion that Kell fabricated his most famous victory.

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 http://etudesirlandaises.revues.org/2936?lang=en

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

Hampshire, J. (undated) “‘Spy Fever’ in Britain, 1900 to 1914.” Historian, Historical Association http://www.history.org.uk/resources/student_resource_596_107.html (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 illequipped 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: http://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/ghr/article/view/10860

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. (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 invasionscare 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.”

Melby, C.K. (2019). “Empire and Nation in British Future-War and Invasion Scare Fiction, 1871-1914”, The Historical Journal, 63, 2 (2020)

ABSTRACT. The British wrote and read a large quantity offictional depictions of future wars andinvasions in the period between 1871 and 1914, imagining the various ways in which a great warmight look before the real conflict broke out. This article outlines the ways in which this form of lit-erature described a British world united across time and space. The stories have traditionally beenread as indicative of a societal fear of invasion, of imperial decline, or of the dangers of revolutionaryupheaval. The article argues that the stories’popularity can instead be traced to the way they includedtheir readers in the experience of invasion and conflict, and how they were well suited to the era ofmodern mass newspapers. The article therefore concludes that earlier interpretations of how readersengaged with suchfiction has underestimated how a varied readership could view the stories as enter-taining spectacles where they were invited to participate. As such, the article offers a new interpretationof an important literary genre as well as of British pre-war political culture.

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. http://alternatehistoryweeklyupdate.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/paranoidfantasies-overview-of-invasion.html

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.