A first bookform edition sold for £11,000 at Cheffins of Cambridge earlier this month was slightly foxed and stained, but on the front free endpaper Wells had signed and inscribed the book for Edmond Joseph Sullivan and added a tiny drawing of a moustachioed angel.
This Sullivan (1852-1936) was a British illustrator and artist who some years later illustrated another of Wells’ books, A Modern Utopia, but in 2004, as part of the superb Roger Rechler library, a copy of ‘War of the Worlds’ that Wells inscribed for a James Frank Sullivan had sold at $20,000 (then £12,800) at Christie's New York.
A fellow contributor to The Strand magazine and writer of supernatural short stories, this Sullivan was warmly addressed by Wells as “the original discoverer of the distinguished Merits of this Book...”
The record holder, however is a copy, inscribed to F Luck and containing two ink cartoons, that made £14,000 at Bonhams in 2008.
The copy at Cheffins on July 15 had been estimated at £3000-5000.
Illustrations from Belgian limited edition
Many readers will be familiar with the book and perhaps know of the Orson Welles produced radio play of 1938 that caused panic when some American listeners mistook the drama, presented in news report form, for news of an actual alien invasion.
Many more will have seen film versions but, excluding serious SF fans and some ATG readers, far fewer will know the artist responsible for a wonderful series of illustrations produced for a small run, Belgian limited edition of the book.
Wells had not been entirely satisfied with Warwick Goble’s illustrations to the 1897 serial publication in Pearsons Magazine, but whole-heartedly approved of sketches shown to him in 1903 by a Brazilian born artist, Henrique Alvim Corrêa (1876-1910). He invited him to illustrate a limited edition of just 500 copies – a translation into French by HD Davray that was to be published in 1906.
Corrêa had moved to Europe in 1888 but then, having married against his parents’ wishes, was denied access to family money. To make ends meet, he began drawing and selling caricatures, horror art, and even erotica using the pseudonym Henry Lemort, but met an untimely death from tuberculosis, aged just 34.
In 2004-05 some of Corrêa’s original artworks, acquired from his family in 1990, were shown at the Science Fiction Museum & Hall of Fame in Seattle, as part of a ‘War of the Worlds’ exhibition.
Then in May 2015 those artworks, three of which are pictured above, were sold for a total of $194,800 (then £123,580) by Heritage Auctions of Dallas.