The Man in the Moone
  • Publication Date: August 14, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551118963 / 1551118963
  • 176 pages; 8½" x 5½"

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The Man in the Moone

  • Publication Date: August 14, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551118963 / 1551118963
  • 176 pages; 8½" x 5½"

Arguably the first work of science fiction in English, Francis Godwin’s The Man in the Moone was published in 1638, pseudonymously and posthumously. The novel, which tells the story of Domingo Gonsales, a Spaniard who flies to the moon by geese power and encounters an advanced lunar civilization, had an enormous impact on the European imagination for centuries after its initial publication. With its discussion of advanced ideas about astronomy and cosmology, the novel is an important example of both popular fiction and scientific speculation.

This Broadview Edition includes a critical introduction that places the text in its scientific and historical contexts. The rich selection of appendices includes related writings by Godwin and his predecessors and contemporaries on magnetism, human flight, voyages to real and unreal lands, and the possibility of extra-terrestrial life.


“A remarkable tale of lunar travel and utopian vision, The Man in the Moone was written by an English bishop sometime around 1630. Drawing on the latest news of travel and warfare from the Atlantic to China and on the latest theories in magnetism, astronomy, and navigation, the story offers an unparalleled window onto its intellectual and cultural world. It also had an impressive afterlife, inspiring celebrated works on imaginative travel and comic satire, earning a mention on some lunar maps, and inspiring writers such as Verne and Wells. This splendid edition by William Poole offers newly authoritative commentary with indispensable annotations on the novel’s sources and significance. Poole’s cleverly chosen appendices add rich materials from contemporary and subsequent texts.” — Simon Schaffer, University of Cambridge

“William Poole’s edition of The Man in the Moone offers a scholarly, accessible, and thoroughly contextualized presentation of this under-appreciated science fiction classic. First published in 1638 and influential for more than a century, The Man in the Moone absorbed a variety of literary, historical, religious, and scientific traditions. It playfully blends the new cosmological lore of the scientific revolution and the new geographical knowledge of the age of discovery with the artful fancy of an inventive imagination. This authoritative edition, with well chosen notes and appendices, presents the Bishop of Hereford’s fancy as the founding text of English science fiction.” — David Cressy, The Ohio State University

“Poole’s footnotes throughout are detailed and insightful, pointing the reader to Godwin’s source material and to appropriate scholarship. The introduction, footnotes, and bibliography engage the history of science, politics, literature, and many other fields. As such, this scholarly edition lends itself to use in courses and to scholarly work in a number of arenas. For scholars of [science fiction], this book will help further the ongoing investigation of [science fiction]’s colonial origins and narrative structures. It will also stir the old debate about when [science fiction] began and what textual elements qualify a text to be labeled as [science fiction].” — Patrick B. Sharp, Science Fiction Studies (July 2011)

Francis Godwin and his Contemporaries: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

The Man in the Moone
Textual Notes

Appendix A: Francis Godwin, Nuncius Inanimatus (1629)

Appendix B: From Lucian of Samosata, The True History

Appendix C: From William of Newburgh, “On the Green Children” (1196-98)

Appendix D: Arguments about Aliens (Philip Melanchthon, Tommaso Campanella, John Wilkins)

Appendix E: From Jan Huygen van Linschoten, Discours of Voyages into the Easte and West Indies (1596)

Appendix F: From Mark Ridley, A Short Treatise of Magneticall Bodies and Motions (1613)

Appendix G: From Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621, 1628)

Appendix H: From John Wilkins, Mathematicall Magick (1648)

Bibliography and Works Cited

William Poole is an Official Tutorial Fellow at New College, Oxford University.