Turns out a little-know Spanish writer wrote the first time travelling (that used a time machine) story at least 7 years before HG Wells.
The HG Wells tale of a Victorian gentleman who voyaged through time on a time machine of his own invention was the one that captured the public’s imagination - but it was not the first of its kind.
It may surprise science fiction fans to learn that it was a little-known Spanish playwright who gave birth to the idea of time travel via a mechanical contraption.
But Enrique Gaspar’s hour may have finally come - his re-discovered novel will feature as one of the highlights of the British Library’s first ever science fiction exhibition next month.
And, thanks largely to the persistence of Spanish science fiction fans, El Anacronopete will be translated into English for the first time, as The Time Ship: A Chrononautical Journey, next year.
The novel was published in Spain in 1887, beating HG Wells’ The Time Machine into print by more than seven years.
“This does seem to be the first literary description of a time machine noted so far,” says Andy Sawyer, librarian of the Science Fiction Foundation Library at the University of Liverpool, and one of the curators of the British Library exhibition.
“There are, of course, much earlier descriptions of travelling through time - usually in a dream, but occasionally by some kind of magic.
“Edward Page Mitchell’s story The Clock That Went Backward (1881) is usually described as the first time-machine story, but I’m not sure that a clock quite counts.”