When the Sleeper Wakes
  • Publication Date: July 24, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554813520 / 1554813522
  • 294 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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When the Sleeper Wakes

  • Publication Date: July 24, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554813520 / 1554813522
  • 294 pages; 5½" x 8½"

As George Orwell wrote in 1940, “Everyone who has ever read When the Sleeper Wakes remembers it.” Graham, the “sleeper” of the title, falls into a cataleptic trance in 1897. Graham will survive on life support for 203 years, suddenly waking in 2100. He wakes to a London encased in a glass dome, in which the Victorian class system has hardened into castes and a revolution is brewing. An important influence on later dystopian novels, Sleeper is a deeply pessimistic book, although Wells could not resist an ending ambiguous enough to permit the reader a faint gleam of optimism.

The novel was re-written and published in 1908 as The Sleeper Awakes, but this edition preserves the original version. Historical appendices include contemporary reviews, Henri Lanos illustrations from The Graphic, and other utopian fiction from the period.


“In his masterly introduction to H.G. Wells’s 1899 novel When the Sleeper Wakes, John Sutherland amply demonstrates its enduring relevance to the contemporary reader, even though it is one of Wells’s lesser-known works. Sutherland’s assessment of the novel is not only extraordinarily erudite and informative but also witty and immensely readable. He provides a lively biography of Wells alongside an appraisal of the novel that is brim-full of fascinating contextual detail and penetrating critical observations. The appendices offer an invaluable historical background to the novel’s inspiration, reception, and film adaptations, as well as reproductions of the fabulous illustrations accompanying the serialization in The Graphic. The two Prefaces and the “Afterword” give us a unique personal glimpse into the development of Wells’s ideas and his writing processes. For any fan or scholar of Wells, this is a much-needed, exemplary revisiting of his tale of time travel.” — Linda Dryden, Edinburgh Napier University

“John Sutherland has produced a knowledgeable, classroom-friendly edition of one of the lesser-known masterpieces of Wells’s scientific fantasies. When the Sleeper Wakes brims with some of Wells’s most prophetic technological inventions and radical political ideas, all of which are expertly discussed and contextualized in Sutherland’s introduction, notes, and appendices.” — Jeremy Withers, Iowa State University

“… this novel deserves to be studied by a larger audience, and John Sutherland is well suited to the task of helping to bring When the Sleeper Wakes to more readers. … this is another commendable volume by Broadview Press. This Canadian publisher continues to produce high-quality, classroom-friendly, affordable editions of many literary works, and their roster of texts by H. G. Wells is now up to half a dozen titles. … One can only hope that we continue to see more Wells volumes published by this press.” — Jeremy Withers, The Wellsian

H.G. Wells: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

When the Sleeper Wakes

Appendix A: Contemporary Reviews

  1. Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine (June 1900)
  2. Athenæum (3 June 1899)
  3. “Prophet vs. Novelist,” Academy (10 June 1899)
  4. New York Times (18 August 1899)

Appendix B: Two Prefaces and an “Afterword”

  1. Preface to the 1910 Edition
  2. Preface to the 1921 Edition
  3. From Experiment in Autobiography (1934)

Appendix C: Illustrations by Henri Lanos

  1. The Graphic, no. 1529 (21 January 1899)
  2. The Graphic, no. 1529 (4 February 1899)
  3. The Graphic, no. 1529 (25 February 1899)
  4. The Graphic, no. 1529 (29 April 1899)

Appendix D: Utopian Quarrels

  1. From W.H. Hudson, A Crystal Age (1887)
  2. From William Morris, News from Nowhere (1891)
  3. From Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward (1889)

Appendix E: Film Versions of When the Sleeper Wakes

Works Cited and Select Bibliography

John Sutherland is Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature at University College London.