The Invisible Man - H.g. Wells - E-Book

The Invisible Man E-Book

H G Wells

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The Invisible Man (1897) is a science fiction novel. The protagonist is Griffin, a scientist who invented chemicals capable of rendering bodies invisible and, on impulse, performed the procedure on himself. His name is not mentioned until about halfway through the book, and he is the model of science without humanity. Griffin takes the road to crime for his survival, revealing in the process his lack of conscience.
In The Invisible Man Wells writes moral tale and adopts a third-person objective point of view.

Herbert George Wells, known primarily as H.g. Wells, was born in England (1866), now best remembered for his science fiction novels. Wells, along with J. Verne and H. Gernsback, is called the father of science fiction. The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1895), The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds (1898) are his most notable works. Wells was nominated, in four different years, for the Nobel Prize. He died in 1946.

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ISBN 9788899181451


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Veste grafica, nota introduttiva e cenni biografici

a cura di Infilaindiana Edizioni



The Invisible Man (1897) is a science fiction novel. The protagonist is Griffin, a scientist who invented chemicals capable of rendering bodies invisible and, on impulse, performed the procedure on himself. His name is not mentioned until about halfway through the book, and he is the model of science without humanity. Griffin takes the road to crime for his survival, revealing in the process his lack of conscience.

In The Invisible Man Wells writes moral tale and adopts a third-person objective point of view.


Herbert George Wells, known primarily as H.G. Wells, was born in England (1866), now best remembered for his science fiction novels. Wells, along with J. Verne and H. Gernsback, is called the father of science fiction. The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1895), The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds (1898) are his most notable works. Wells was nominated, in four different years, for the Nobel Prize. He died in 1946.

The Invisible Man


A Grotesque Romance




H. G. Wells






The stranger came early in February, one wintry day, through a

biting wind and a driving snow, the last snowfall of the year, over

the down, walking from Bramblehurst railway station, and carrying a

little black portmanteau in his thickly gloved hand. He was wrapped

up from head to foot, and the brim of his soft felt hat hid every

inch of his face but the shiny tip of his nose; the snow had piled

itself against his shoulders and chest, and added a white crest to

the burden he carried. He staggered into the “Coach and Horses” more

dead than alive, and flung his portmanteau down. “A fire,” he cried,

“in the name of human charity! A room and a fire!” He stamped and

shook the snow from off himself in the bar, and followed Mrs. Hall

into her guest parlour to strike his bargain. And with that much

introduction, that and a couple of sovereigns flung upon the table,

he took up his quarters in the inn.


Mrs. Hall lit the fire and left him there while she went to prepare

him a meal with her own hands. A guest to stop at Iping in the

wintertime was an unheard-of piece of luck, let alone a guest who

was no “haggler,” and she was resolved to show herself worthy of her

good fortune. As soon as the bacon was well under way, and Millie,

her lymphatic maid, had been brisked up a bit by a few deftly chosen

expressions of contempt, she carried the cloth, plates, and glasses

into the parlour and began to lay them with the utmost _eclat_.

Although the fire was burning up briskly, she was surprised to see

that her visitor still wore his hat and coat, standing with his back

to her and staring out of the window at the falling snow in the yard.

His gloved hands were clasped behind him, and he seemed to be lost

in thought. She noticed that the melting snow that still sprinkled

his shoulders dripped upon her carpet. “Can I take your hat and coat,

sir?” she said, “and give them a good dry in the kitchen?”


“No,” he said without turning.


She was not sure she had heard him, and was about to repeat her



He turned his head and looked at her over his shoulder. “I prefer to

keep them on,” he said with emphasis, and she noticed that he wore

big blue spectacles with sidelights, and had a bush side-whisker

over his coat-collar that completely hid his cheeks and face.


“Very well, sir,” she said. “_As_ you like. In a bit the room will

be warmer.”


He made no answer, and had turned his face away from her again, and

Mrs. Hall, feeling that her conversational advances were ill-timed,

laid the rest of the table things in a quick staccato and whisked

out of the room. When she returned he was still standing there, like

a man of stone, his back hunched, his collar turned up, his dripping

hat-brim turned down, hiding his face and ears completely. She put

down the eggs and bacon with considerable emphasis, and called

rather than said to him, “Your lunch is served, sir.”


“Thank you,” he said at the same time, and did not stir until she

was closing the door. Then he swung round and approached the table

with a certain eager quickness.


As she went behind the bar to the kitchen she heard a sound repeated

at regular intervals. Chirk, chirk, chirk, it went, the sound of a

spoon being rapidly whisked round a basin. “That girl!” she said.

“There! I clean forgot it. It’s her being so long!” And while she

herself finished mixing the mustard, she gave Millie a few verbal

stabs for her excessive slowness. She had cooked the ham and eggs,

laid the table, and done everything, while Millie (help indeed!) had

only succeeded in delaying the mustard. And him a new guest and

wanting to stay! Then she filled the mustard pot, and, putting it

with a certain stateliness upon a gold and black tea-tray, carried

it into the parlour.


She rapped and entered promptly. As she did so her visitor moved

quickly, so that she got but a glimpse of a white object disappearing

behind the table. It would seem he was picking something from the

floor. She rapped down the mustard pot on the table, and then she

noticed the overcoat and hat had been taken off and put over a chair

in front of the fire, and a pair of wet boots threatened rust to her

steel fender. She went to these things resolutely. “I suppose I may

have them to dry now,” she said in a voice that brooked no denial.


“Leave the hat,” said her visitor, in a muffled voice, and turning

she saw he had raised his head and was sitting and looking at her.


For a moment she stood gaping at him, too surprised to speak.


He held a white cloth--it was a serviette he had brought with

him--over the lower part of his face, so that his mouth and jaws

were completely hidden, and that was the reason of his muffled

voice. But it was not that which startled Mrs. Hall. It was the fact

that all his forehead above his blue glasses was covered by a white

bandage, and that another covered his ears, leaving not a scrap of

his face exposed excepting only his pink, peaked nose. It was bright,

pink, and shiny just as it had been at first. He wore a dark-brown

velvet jacket with a high, black, linen-lined collar turned up about

his neck. The thick black hair, escaping as it could below and

between the cross bandages, projected in curious tails and horns,

giving him the strangest appearance conceivable. This muffled and

bandaged head was so unlike what she had anticipated, that for a

moment she was rigid.


He did not remove the serviette, but remained holding it, as she

saw now, with a brown gloved hand, and regarding her with his

inscrutable blue glasses. “Leave the hat,” he said, speaking very

distinctly through the white cloth.


Her nerves began to recover from the shock they had received. She

placed the hat on the chair again by the fire. “I didn’t know, sir,”

she began, “that--” and she stopped embarrassed.


“Thank you,” he said drily, glancing from her to the door and then

at her again.


“I’ll have them nicely dried, sir, at once,” she said, and carried

his clothes out of the room. She glanced at his white-swathed head

and blue goggles again as she was going out of the door; but his

napkin was still in front of his face. She shivered a little as she

closed the door behind her, and her face was eloquent of her surprise

and perplexity. “I _never_,” she whispered. “There!” She went quite

softly to the kitchen, and was too preoccupied to ask Millie what

she was messing about with _now_, when she got there.


The visitor sat and listened to her retreating feet. He glanced

inquiringly at the window before he removed his serviette, and

resumed his meal. He took a mouthful, glanced suspiciously at the

window, took another mouthful, then rose and, taking the serviette

in his hand, walked across the room and pulled the blind down to

the top of the white muslin that obscured the lower panes. This

left the room in a twilight. This done, he returned with an easier

air to the table and his meal.


“The poor soul’s had an accident or an op’ration or somethin’,” said

Mrs. Hall. “What a turn them bandages did give me, to be sure!”


She put on some more coal, unfolded the clothes-horse, and extended

the traveller’s coat upon this. “And they goggles! Why, he looked

more like a divin’ helmet than a human man!” She hung his muffler

on a corner of the horse. “And holding that handkerchief over his

mouth all the time. Talkin’ through it! ... Perhaps his mouth was

hurt too--maybe.”


She turned round, as one who suddenly remembers. “Bless my soul

alive!” she said, going off at a tangent; “ain’t you done them

taters _yet_, Millie?”


When Mrs. Hall went to clear away the stranger’s lunch, her idea

that his mouth must also have been cut or disfigured in the accident

she supposed him to have suffered, was confirmed, for he was smoking

a pipe, and all the time that she was in the room he never loosened

the silk muffler he had wrapped round the lower part of his face to

put the mouthpiece to his lips. Yet it was not forgetfulness, for

she saw he glanced at it as it smouldered out. He sat in the corner

with his back to the window-blind and spoke now, having eaten and

drunk and being comfortably warmed through, with less aggressive

brevity than before. The reflection of the fire lent a kind of red

animation to his big spectacles they had lacked hitherto.


“I have some luggage,” he said, “at Bramblehurst station,” and he

asked her how he could have it sent. He bowed his bandaged head

quite politely in acknowledgment of her explanation. “To-morrow?” he

said. “There is no speedier delivery?” and seemed quite disappointed

when she answered, “No.” Was she quite sure? No man with a trap who

would go over?


Mrs. Hall, nothing loath, answered his questions and developed a

conversation. “It’s a steep road by the down, sir,” she said in

answer to the question about a trap; and then, snatching at an

opening, said, “It was there a carriage was upsettled, a year ago

and more. A gentleman killed, besides his coachman. Accidents, sir,

happen in a moment, don’t they?”


But the visitor was not to be drawn so easily. “They do,” he said

through his muffler, eyeing her quietly through his impenetrable



“But they take long enough to get well, don’t they? ... There was

my sister’s son, Tom, jest cut his arm with a scythe, tumbled on it

in the ‘ayfield, and, bless me! he was three months tied up sir.

You’d hardly believe it. It’s regular given me a dread of a scythe,



“I can quite understand that,” said the visitor.


“He was afraid, one time, that he’d have to have an op’ration--he

was that bad, sir.”


The visitor laughed abruptly, a bark of a laugh that he seemed to

bite and kill in his mouth. “_Was_ he?” he said.


“He was, sir. And no laughing matter to them as had the doing for

him, as I had--my sister being took up with her little ones so

much. There was bandages to do, sir, and bandages to undo. So that

if I may make so bold as to say it, sir--”


“Will you get me some matches?” said the visitor, quite abruptly.

“My pipe is out.”


Mrs. Hall was pulled up suddenly. It was certainly rude of him,

after telling him all she had done. She gasped at him for a moment,

and remembered the two sovereigns. She went for the matches.


“Thanks,” he said concisely, as she put them down, and turned his

shoulder upon her and stared out of the window again. It was

altogether too discouraging. Evidently he was sensitive on the

topic of operations and bandages. She did not “make so bold as to

say,” however, after all. But his snubbing way had irritated her,

and Millie had a hot time of it that afternoon.


The visitor remained in the parlour until four o’clock, without

giving the ghost of an excuse for an intrusion. For the most part

he was quite still during that time; it would seem he sat in the

growing darkness smoking in the firelight--perhaps dozing.


Once or twice a curious listener might have heard him at the coals,

and for the space of five minutes he was audible pacing the room.

He seemed to be talking to himself. Then the armchair creaked as

he sat down again.






At four o’clock, when it was fairly dark and Mrs. Hall was screwing

up her courage to go in and ask her visitor if he would take some

tea, Teddy Henfrey, the clock-jobber, came into the bar. “My sakes!

Mrs. Hall,” said he, “but this is terrible weather for thin boots!”

The snow outside was falling faster.


Mrs. Hall agreed, and then noticed he had his bag with him. “Now

you’re here, Mr. Teddy,” said she, “I’d be glad if you’d give th’

old clock in the parlour a bit of a look. ‘Tis going, and it strikes

well and hearty; but the hour-hand won’t do nuthin’ but point at



And leading the way, she went across to the parlour door and rapped

and entered.


Her visitor, she saw as she opened the door, was seated in the

armchair before the fire, dozing it would seem, with his bandaged

head drooping on one side. The only light in the room was the red

glow from the fire--which lit his eyes like adverse railway signals,

but left his downcast face in darkness--and the scanty vestiges of

the day that came in through the open door. Everything was ruddy,

shadowy, and indistinct to her, the more so since she had just been

lighting the bar lamp, and her eyes were dazzled. But for a second

it seemed to her that the man she looked at had an enormous mouth

wide open--a vast and incredible mouth that swallowed the whole of

the lower portion of his face. It was the sensation of a moment:

the white-bound head, the monstrous goggle eyes, and this huge yawn

below it. Then he stirred, started up in his chair, put up his hand.

She opened the door wide, so that the room was lighter, and she saw

him more clearly, with the muffler held up to his face just as she

had seen him hold the serviette before. The shadows, she fancied,

had tricked her.


“Would you mind, sir, this man a-coming to look at the clock, sir?”

she said, recovering from the momentary shock.


“Look at the clock?” he said, staring round in a drowsy manner,

and speaking over his hand, and then, getting more fully awake,



Mrs. Hall went away to get a lamp, and he rose and stretched

himself. Then came the light, and Mr. Teddy Henfrey, entering, was

confronted by this bandaged person. He was, he says, “taken aback.”


“Good afternoon,” said the stranger, regarding him--as Mr. Henfrey

says, with a vivid sense of the dark spectacles--”like a lobster.”


“I hope,” said Mr. Henfrey, “that it’s no intrusion.”


“None whatever,” said the stranger. “Though, I understand,” he said

turning to Mrs. Hall, “that this room is really to be mine for my

own private use.”


“I thought, sir,” said Mrs. Hall, “you’d prefer the clock--”


“Certainly,” said the stranger, “certainly--but, as a rule, I

like to be alone and undisturbed.


“But I’m really glad to have the clock seen to,” he said, seeing a

certain hesitation in Mr. Henfrey’s manner. “Very glad.” Mr. Henfrey

had intended to apologise and withdraw, but this anticipation

reassured him. The stranger turned round with his back to the

fireplace and put his hands behind his back. “And presently,” he

said, “when the clock-mending is over, I think I should like to

have some tea. But not till the clock-mending is over.”


Mrs. Hall was about to leave the room--she made no conversational

advances this time, because she did not want to be snubbed in front

of Mr. Henfrey--when her visitor asked her if she had made any

arrangements about his boxes at Bramblehurst. She told him she had

mentioned the matter to the postman, and that the carrier could

bring them over on the morrow. “You are certain that is the

earliest?” he said.


She was certain, with a marked coldness.


“I should explain,” he added, “what I was really too cold and

fatigued to do before, that I am an experimental investigator.”


“Indeed, sir,” said Mrs. Hall, much impressed.


“And my baggage contains apparatus and appliances.”


“Very useful things indeed they are, sir,” said Mrs. Hall.


“And I’m very naturally anxious to get on with my inquiries.”


“Of course, sir.”


“My reason for coming to Iping,” he proceeded, with a certain

deliberation of manner, “was ... a desire for solitude. I do not

wish to be disturbed in my work. In addition to my work, an



“I thought as much,” said Mrs. Hall to herself.


“--necessitates a certain retirement. My eyes--are sometimes so

weak and painful that I have to shut myself up in the dark for

hours together. Lock myself up. Sometimes--now and then. Not at

present, certainly. At such times the slightest disturbance, the

entry of a stranger into the room, is a source of excruciating

annoyance to me--it is well these things should be understood.”


“Certainly, sir,” said Mrs. Hall. “And if I might make so bold as

to ask--”


“That I think, is all,” said the stranger, with that quietly

irresistible air of finality he could assume at will. Mrs. Hall

reserved her question and sympathy for a better occasion.


After Mrs. Hall had left the room, he remained standing in front of

the fire, glaring, so Mr. Henfrey puts it, at the clock-mending. Mr.

Henfrey not only took off the hands of the clock, and the face, but

extracted the works; and he tried to work in as slow and quiet and

unassuming a manner as possible. He worked with the lamp close to

him, and the green shade threw a brilliant light upon his hands,

and upon the frame and wheels, and left the rest of the room

shadowy. When he looked up, coloured patches swam in his eyes.

Being constitutionally of a curious nature, he had removed the

works--a quite unnecessary proceeding--with the idea of delaying his

departure and perhaps falling into conversation with the stranger.

But the stranger stood there, perfectly silent and still. So still,

it got on Henfrey’s nerves. He felt alone in the room and looked up,

and there, grey and dim, was the bandaged head and huge blue lenses

staring fixedly, with a mist of green spots drifting in front of

them. It was so uncanny to Henfrey that for a minute they remained

staring blankly at one another. Then Henfrey looked down again. Very

uncomfortable position! One would like to say something. Should he

remark that the weather was very cold for the time of year?


He looked up as if to take aim with that introductory shot. “The

weather--” he began.


“Why don’t you finish and go?” said the rigid figure, evidently in

a state of painfully suppressed rage. “All you’ve got to do is to

fix the hour-hand on its axle. You’re simply humbugging--”


“Certainly, sir--one minute more. I overlooked--” and Mr. Henfrey

finished and went.


But he went feeling excessively annoyed. “Damn it!” said Mr. Henfrey

to himself, trudging down the village through the thawing snow; “a

man must do a clock at times, surely.”


And again, “Can’t a man look at you?--Ugly!”


And yet again, “Seemingly not. If the police was wanting you you

couldn’t be more wropped and bandaged.”


At Gleeson’s corner he saw Hall, who had recently married the

stranger’s hostess at the “Coach and Horses,” and who now drove

the Iping conveyance, when occasional people required it, to

Sidderbridge Junction, coming towards him on his return from that

place. Hall had evidently been “stopping a bit” at Sidderbridge,

to judge by his driving. “’Ow do, Teddy?” he said, passing.


“You got a rum un up home!” said Teddy.


Hall very sociably pulled up. “What’s that?” he asked.


“Rum-looking customer stopping at the ‘Coach and Horses,’” said

Teddy. “My sakes!”


And he proceeded to give Hall a vivid description of his grotesque

guest. “Looks a bit like a disguise, don’t it? I’d like to see a

man’s face if I had him stopping in _my_ place,” said Henfrey. “But

women are that trustful--where strangers are concerned. He’s took

your rooms and he ain’t even given a name, Hall.”


“You don’t say so!” said Hall, who was a man of sluggish apprehension.


“Yes,” said Teddy. “By the week. Whatever he is, you can’t get rid

of him under the week. And he’s got a lot of luggage coming

to-morrow, so he says. Let’s hope it won’t be stones in boxes, Hall.”


He told Hall how his aunt at Hastings had been swindled by a

stranger with empty portmanteaux. Altogether he left Hall vaguely

suspicious. “Get up, old girl,” said Hall. “I s’pose I must see

‘bout this.”


Teddy trudged on his way with his mind considerably relieved.


Instead of “seeing ‘bout it,” however, Hall on his return was

severely rated by his wife on the length of time he had spent in

Sidderbridge, and his mild inquiries were answered snappishly and

in a manner not to the point. But the seed of suspicion Teddy

had sown germinated in the mind of Mr. Hall in spite of these

discouragements. “You wim’ don’t know everything,” said Mr. Hall,

resolved to ascertain more about the personality of his guest at

the earliest possible opportunity. And after the stranger had gone

to bed, which he did about half-past nine, Mr. Hall went very

aggressively into the parlour and looked very hard at his wife’s

furniture, just to show that the stranger wasn’t master there,

and scrutinised closely and a little contemptuously a sheet of

mathematical computations the stranger had left. When retiring

for the night he instructed Mrs. Hall to look very closely at

the stranger’s luggage when it came next day.


“You mind your own business, Hall,” said Mrs. Hall, “and I’ll mind



She was all the more inclined to snap at Hall because the stranger

was undoubtedly an unusually strange sort of stranger, and she was

by no means assured about him in her own mind. In the middle of the

night she woke up dreaming of huge white heads like turnips, that

came trailing after her, at the end of interminable necks, and with

vast black eyes. But being a sensible woman, she subdued her

terrors and turned over and went to sleep again.






So it was that on the twenty-ninth day of February, at the beginning

of the thaw, this singular person fell out of infinity into Iping

village. Next day his luggage arrived through the slush--and very

remarkable luggage it was. There were a couple of trunks indeed,

such as a rational man might need, but in addition there were

a box of books--big, fat books, of which some were just in an

incomprehensible handwriting--and a dozen or more crates, boxes,

and cases, containing objects packed in straw, as it seemed to

Hall, tugging with a casual curiosity at the straw--glass bottles.

The stranger, muffled in hat, coat, gloves, and wrapper, came out

impatiently to meet Fearenside’s cart, while Hall was having a word

or so of gossip preparatory to helping bring them in. Out he came,

not noticing Fearenside’s dog, who was sniffing in a _dilettante_

spirit at Hall’s legs. “Come along with those boxes,” he said.

“I’ve been waiting long enough.”


And he came down the steps towards the tail of the cart as if to

lay hands on the smaller crate.


No sooner had Fearenside’s dog caught sight of him, however, than

it began to bristle and growl savagely, and when he rushed down the

steps it gave an undecided hop, and then sprang straight at his

hand. “Whup!” cried Hall, jumping back, for he was no hero with

dogs, and Fearenside howled, “Lie down!” and snatched his whip.


They saw the dog’s teeth had slipped the hand, heard a kick, saw the

dog execute a flanking jump and get home on the stranger’s leg, and

heard the rip of his trousering. Then the finer end of Fearenside’s

whip reached his property, and the dog, yelping with dismay,

retreated under the wheels of the waggon. It was all the business of

a swift half-minute. No one spoke, everyone shouted. The stranger

glanced swiftly at his torn glove and at his leg, made as if he

would stoop to the latter, then turned and rushed swiftly up the

steps into the inn. They heard him go headlong across the passage

and up the uncarpeted stairs to his bedroom.


“You brute, you!” said Fearenside, climbing off the waggon with his

whip in his hand, while the dog watched him through the wheel.

“Come here,” said Fearenside--”You’d better.”


Hall had stood gaping. “He wuz bit,” said Hall. “I’d better go and

see to en,” and he trotted after the stranger. He met Mrs. Hall in

the passage. “Carrier’s darg,” he said “bit en.”


He went straight upstairs, and the stranger’s door being ajar, he

pushed it open and was entering without any ceremony, being of a

naturally sympathetic turn of mind.


The blind was down and the room dim. He caught a glimpse of a most

singular thing, what seemed a handless arm waving towards him, and

a face of three huge indeterminate spots on white, very like the

face of a pale pansy. Then he was struck violently in the chest,

hurled back, and the door slammed in his face and locked. It was so

rapid that it gave him no time to observe. A waving of indecipherable

shapes, a blow, and a concussion. There he stood on the dark little

landing, wondering what it might be that he had seen.


A couple of minutes after, he rejoined the little group that had

formed outside the “Coach and Horses.” There was Fearenside telling

about it all over again for the second time; there was Mrs. Hall

saying his dog didn’t have no business to bite her guests; there

was Huxter, the general dealer from over the road, interrogative;

and Sandy Wadgers from the forge, judicial; besides women and

children, all of them saying fatuities: “Wouldn’t let en bite

_me_, I knows”; “’Tasn’t right _have_ such dargs”; “Whad _’e_ bite

‘n for, then?” and so forth.


Mr. Hall, staring at them from the steps and listening, found it

incredible that he had seen anything so very remarkable happen

upstairs. Besides, his vocabulary was altogether too limited to

express his impressions.


“He don’t want no help, he says,” he said in answer to his wife’s

inquiry. “We’d better be a-takin’ of his luggage in.”


“He ought to have it cauterised at once,” said Mr. Huxter;

“especially if it’s at all inflamed.”


“I’d shoot en, that’s what I’d do,” said a lady in the group.


Suddenly the dog began growling again.


“Come along,” cried an angry voice in the doorway, and there stood

the muffled stranger with his collar turned up, and his hat-brim

bent down. “The sooner you get those things in the better I’ll be

pleased.” It is stated by an anonymous bystander that his trousers

and gloves had been changed.


“Was you hurt, sir?” said Fearenside. “I’m rare sorry the darg--”