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LITTLE WARS, by H. G. Wells

Edited by Nigel Lepianka and Deanna Stover


H. G. Wells (1866–1946) published two books about play with miniatures (specifically, toy soldiers): Floor Games in 1911, and then Little Wars in 1913. In Floor Games, Wells explains the supplies needed to create a world on the nursery floor and dramatizes his sons’ play. Little Wars, however, provides a more complex, codified game. More importantly, Little Wars was unprecedented. As Jon Peterson notes, it was the first time “miniature wargame rules [were] marketed in book form to the general public.”[1] Little Wars continues to be influential on modern gaming: the book has become the norm for popular role-playing game rulebooks such as Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. Although Little Wars has always remained in print since its first publication, and later editions feature forewords by influential figures including writer Isaac Asimov and Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax, to date there has not been a critical scholarly edition of the text.

As a rulebook, the primary goal of Little Wars is, in the end, to produce play (even if it is play with an ideological bent—in this case, pacifism). However, the text is far more than a straightforward account of rules. Esther MacCallum-Stewart points out that Little Wars consists of three main sections: an early version of the “development diary” (chapter 2); a rules section (chapter 3); and an “example of play” detailing Wells’s successful “Battle of Hook’s Farm” (chapter 4).[2] Like writers of modern development diaries, Wells uses chapter 2 to chronicle how the game began and how it changed through play-testing various iterations. He records successes and failures; explains the reasoning behind certain rules; and gives advice about setting up "The Country" where the wars will take place, the making of which he had previously detailed in Floor Games.

Black-and-white photographs of play and setup taken by Wells’s wife and marginal illustrations by J. R. Sinclair accompany the text. The illustrations, photos, and text all interact, which is partially why current digital transcripts that fail to include the marginal illustrations do not accurately represent Little Wars. A few photographs feature Wells and his opponent, Jerome K. Jerome, thereby helping to show the scale of the battles, but many other photos show how incredibly detailed Wells’s sets were. Moreover, these sets are often shot in a way that makes them seem life-size rather than in miniature. The marginal illustrations similarly depict both lifeless figurines in a player's hand or placed behind books as if for cover and seemingly animate toys in naturalistic settings.

This tension between game and fiction exists throughout Little Wars. When describing the Battle of Hook’s Farm, Wells adopts the persona of a general, and what follows is more like a short story than simply a description of play:

And suddenly your author changes. He changes into what perhaps he might have been—under different circumstances. His inky fingers become large, manly hands, his drooping scholastic back stiffens, his elbows go out, his etiolated complexion corrugates and darkens, his moustaches increase and grow and spread, and curl up horribly; a large, red scar, a sabre cut, grows lurid over one eye. He expands—all over he expands.[3]

It is here, in Wells's narration, where we can begin to see elements of modern role-playing games (RPGs) where players adopt personas. Wells clearly sees his games as participatory literature. The title to chapter 6, “Ending with a Sort of Challenge,” is joined by an illustration of a bookcase labeled “Little Wars,” topped with a general’s bust and featuring nineteen volumes of books—books that may depict his readers’ wars as much as his own. And yet, potential stories must still exist within a set of rules. Like in modern RPGs, prescribed guidelines add structure to a game; limitations allow for more interesting play because players must strategically and creatively navigate through a fixed framework to win. In the end, as many gamers will agree, the story that plays out as a result of these rules is as satisfying as any victory.

While Little Wars is much more than rules, our approach to this critical edition is meant to frame the text around the rules and suggestions of gameplay prescribed in chapter 3 in order to highlight the participatory nature of Wells's work. Although it is a narrative in its own right, Little Wars gives its readers and players (mutually inclusive groups that they are) the chance to create their own narratives. It could be argued that other works or texts could allow for such a phenomenon, and we would not presume Little Wars and other game manuals to be the sole purveyors of such a productive element of literary works; however, game manuals like Little Wars presuppose as their raison d’être that the game will be played. Readers will interact with and build on the initial text, creating narratives that even Wells at his most fantastical could not predict. In addition, we see our edition of Little Wars as a contribution to the growing scholarly body on games and gaming. Part of our purpose here is to begin a conversation about how to use current TEI standards to encode rules.[4] We have explained our choices below and hope that our decisions will continue to be refined as similar projects develop.

In order to emphasize that Little Wars is both a readable text and a playable game, we have also included TEI-encoded streamlined rules. Asides and narratives often accompany Wells’s rules, and we felt that simplifying and clarifying the rules would help make gameplay more accessible. Although Wells sketches out ideas for adjusting Little Wars for military training in an appendix, our streamlined rules privilege Wells's original rule set. Of course, readers should feel free to read through and play along with Wells’s addenda as well. In either case we invite readers to engage with Little Wars by creating their own miniature battles. As Wells himself demands: “It is for you, dear reader, now to get a floor, a friend, some soldiers and some guns, and show by a groveling devotion your appreciation of this noble and beautiful gift of limitless game that I have given you.”[5]

The Context

Wells’s Floor Games and Little Wars came out of a contemporary growing cultural interest in toy soldiers (also referred to as miniatures, a term that allows for a more varied understanding of small figurines used for play or display). The Prussian invention of kriegspiel was a watershed moment for the creation and use of structured systems for simulating war and helped to spur the growth of toy industries at the turn of the twentieth century. Little Wars represents Wells’s expansion of and response to the war-game concept. However, the books were not Wells’s idea. Floor Games and Little Wars came about after a small publisher, Frank Palmer, reached out to Wells (already an established and popular author at this point) and asked him to write a book about games for children. Wells obviously agreed, penning Floor Games soon after. His second book for Palmer, Little Wars, would be published in 1913, but it was first serialized (without J. R. Sinclair’s illustrations but under the copyright of Frank Palmer) in the Windsor Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly for Men and Women beginning in December 1912.[6]

While most of the changes between the serial and volume versions of Little Wars consist of grammatical emendations, Wells added a fourth chapter, "Extensions and Amplifications of Little War," and an appendix to the 1913 publication. These sections introduce additional ideas (some tested, some not) for more advanced play, both as a larger, more challenging version of his original Little War or as a kriegspiel meant for military training purposes (something he devised with the help of Colonel Mark Sykes). In both cases, we can see how Wells continued to devote time and energy into his creation.

Certainly Floor Games and Little Wars were not the first or the last instances of Wells writing about play with miniatures. Palmer recruited Wells after reading the author’s semi-autobiographical and controversial novel The New Machiavelli, first serialized in 1910. The novel features multiple references to the war games played by the main character, Dick Remington, and his friend Britten:[7]

We developed a war game of our own at Britten’s home with nearly a couple of hundred lead soldiers, some excellent spring cannons that shot hard and true at six yards, hills of books and a constantly elaborated set of rules. For some months that occupied an immense proportion of our leisure. Some of the battles lasted several days. We kept the game a profound secret from the other fellows. They would not have understood.[8]

However, unlike Dick Remington, Palmer knew that “other fellows” would certainly understand the appeal of staging little wars—he was tapping into an already popular and ever-growing market.

In 1893 William Britain had revolutionized the toy world by introducing hollow miniatures, making them more affordable. Due in part to the general increase in leisure time, literacy, and income among the middle class, toys became a staple during the latter half of the nineteenth century.[9] In fact, Kenneth Brown identifies in particular a “toy soldier craze” in the two decades leading up to the Great War, or World War I.[10] Notably, while children were certainly a part of the intended market, they were not necessarily the only intended audience. Many adults played with miniatures with and without children, and Wells was clearly not writing to an exclusively child audience. The venue in which Little Wars was published, Windsor Magazine, was for “men and women,” and Wells consistently speaks to adults throughout the rulebook.

The subtitle of Little Wars itself, “A game for Boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books,” explicitly highlights the belief that adults (primarily male—a misconception about gaming that still exists today) could enjoy these games. This subtitle is even more interesting after realizing that Wells’s oldest son, George Philip, was not quite twelve at the time Little Wars was first published, excluding both of Wells’s children from the audience for Little Wars despite them being the focus of his earlier Floor Games.[11] Moreover, Kimberley Reynolds points out that “there is, in fact, a notable absence of children in the photographs that illustrate Little Wars[12] —four of the photos do feature Wells and his opponent, Jerome K. Jerome, giants in comparison to the miniature world they are creating. And Wells was not the only adult literary figure involved in war games. Besides his companion Jerome, we know that Robert Louis Stevenson and others enjoyed playing with miniatures.[13] Wells even claims to have played war games with various political leaders, including Winston Churchill.[14]

And girls did play too. As early as 1826, Branwell’s toy soldiers inspired the Brontës to create Glasstown and write about the imagined lands of Angria and Gondal. Although the Brontë sisters surely were an intelligent set of girls, Edith Nesbit proves that women were also involved in a similar kind of play. In 1910—before Wells had even begun to serialize The New Machiavelli—Nesbit published The Magic City, the story of a girl and boy shrinking in size to enter a mini-city built out of household objects on the playroom floor. Nesbit followed this novel with a book for parents that provided instructions for how adults and children could build their own “magic cities” together. Entitled Wings and the Child, this book came out the same year as Little Wars.[15] These nearly concurrent publications show the contemporary marketability of instructions for building worlds and wars for both the young and the old.

In any case, Wells’s war-game rules continue to be considered the most influential rules from the time. This is, no doubt, in part because of Wells’s status as a popular writer and the co-occurring advancement of toy technologies. Many scholars have commented on how Wells’s rulebooks nearly function as advertising for William Britain’s toys. J. R. Sinclair’s illustrations certainly resemble contemporary toy soldier advertisements. In Floor Games, at least, Wells directly addresses the toy industry: “And of the war game I must either write volumes or nothing. Some day, perhaps, I will write a great book about the war game and tell of battles and campaigns and strategy and tactics. But this time I set out merely to tell of the ordinary joys of playing with the floor, and to gird improvingly and usefully at toymakers.”[16] James Opie suggests that Wells’s girding in Floor Games was successful, as Wells calls for a larger variety of citizen miniatures, something that Britain delivered in 1912 with the Civilians Set 168. Opie even goes so far as to “wonder if contact [between Wells and Britain] ensued, and Little Wars was the result.”[17] In many ways, Wells was advertising miniatures; at the time he hoped that playing at war would discourage real war, a particularly timely purpose considering Little Wars was released just a year before the start of the First World War.

Wells and War

What Wells knew as the “Great War” was clearly on his mind as he was writing Little Wars. He repeatedly juxtaposes his games with reality, even claiming to believe that Little Wars might function as a deterrent for the “Real Thing.” Specifically, Wells imagines that players of his game would begin to see the horrors and impracticality of real warfare: “I have never yet met in little battle any military gentleman, any captain, major, colonel, general, or eminent commander, who did not presently get into difficulties and confusions among even the elementary rules of the Battle. You have only to play at Little Wars three or four times to realise just what a blundering thing Great War must be.”[18] His preoccupation with the coming war is perhaps further highlighted by the initial serialization of Little Wars. In addition to the new chapters and grammatical emendations we mentioned earlier, Wells's most substantial revisions to Little Wars occur in chapter 4, "Ending With a Sort of Challenge." Wells was more aggressive in the serial, having written: "I have never yet met in little battle any military gentleman, any captain, major, colonel, general, or eminent commander, who wasn't quite easily anticipated, outmanœuvred, and licked at these miniature exercises."[19] A few other rewordings follow, often softening Wells's criticism of the incompetency of the military, but the sentiment in both versions remains the same. Thus, Peterson aptly qualifies Little Wars: “Nominally it describes a game, but it served just as well as a polemic.”[20]

Wells appears to be reacting to fears about modern warfare between world powers in particular. Much of this fear seems to stem from rapidly evolving weapon technologies. Even by 1909, Wells admitted that “we have over-developed war” in his essay entitled "The Possible Collapse of Civilisation."[21] In fact, many of his writings foretold the destruction of man through war. And while Little Wars was his first war “game,” “by the time the world went to war in August 1914, H. G. Wells had already fought a goodly number of major wars, most of them global in scope, in his scientific romances, short stories, and essays.”[22] Wells was incredibly gifted at predicting future war technologies, conceivably making the realities of a fast-approaching war all the more terrifying for him. After all, he imagined what are essentially tanks in The Land Ironclad (1903), aerial warfare in The War in the Air (1908), and atomic bombs in The World Set Free (1914).

Perhaps his fear is what made playing at war so fascinating to Wells. Peterson and others have pointed out how antiquated Wells’s battle rules are. Unlike real battle, chapter 2 shows how Wells modified his game tirelessly in order to develop a fair form of war. One might say that Little Wars even offers up a utopian version of war since it works toward setting up a battle among equals. The little wars staged according to Wells’s rules are not representations of an Imperial Britain against indigenous peoples resisting colonization, nor even are they battles of Waterloo, between two distinct yet Western powers. Instead, Little Wars can be most accurately understood as a battle between two Englands before modern war technologies.[23]

At all points, Wells constructs the procedures of his game to indicate the necessary equality between Players A and B. Even in cases where an advantage may be inferred, Wells considers and implements rules to eliminate or mitigate those advantages. Aside from determining the country designer (a privilege Wells also attempts to make more equitable by allowing the other player to choose where their army enters), the mechanics of Little Wars are designed to help eliminate chance: players receive an equal number of units, although they can choose the configuration (more cavalry versus more cannons or infantry, etc.), who all obey a mutual set of rules with little difference between the opposing sides. Battle is also reliant on mutual trust; although players can use a curtain to hide their setup, much of the game is fought in the open and each player is responsible for keeping track of time during their opponent’s turn.

This egalitarian and trustful approach to warfare reflects Wells’s romanticization of a simpler time within his rules. Peterson notes that Little Wars recalls “a romantic era of warfare, that of a century before: a time when two uniformed armies in orderly columns conducted the business of war under a common law of arms, in a bounded arena far from civilians.”[24] Compared to the threat of increasingly technological warfare, Wells’s wars are tame, simple, and clean. Attacks rely almost completely on the aimed cannon fire or capture; until the appendix where Wells and Colonel Mark Sykes adapt the rules of Little Wars to be more effective as a training mechanism, Wells does not make any instructions for arming the soldiers with rifles. In fact, “in the Little Wars systems infantry and cavalry effectively fight in melee range,”[25] an anachronistic decision that reflects Wells’s anxieties about and dismissal of a more modern, technologically advanced form of warfare.

And yet, Wells's desire for Little Wars to function as a sort of substitution for war, while educating and providing entertainment, necessitates that the little wars reflect, in some way, the complexities and realities of a real war. Referencing proponents of war, Wells believed that “my game is just as good as their game, and saner by reason of its size. Here is War, done down to rational proportions, and yet out of the way of mankind.”[26] Despite the possible annoyance of toy war spilling out into the staircase,[27] little wars were abstracted from reality. The game allowed for more control than the looming Great War; it granted the players a feeling of agency while also removing war simulation from any real world: “The miniature . . . presents a diminutive, and thereby manipulatable, version of experience, a version which is domesticated and protected from contamination. It marks the pure body, the inorganic body of the machine and its repetition of a death that is thereby not a death.”[28] Wells continuously reminds the reader that, lacking any visceral ends and capable of repeated play, these little toy soldiers and their little wars do not replicate reality, even if they satisfy a desire for violence. Wells challenges the realities of war through the very ability to reenact and reimagine battles and scenery again and again. This combined with antiquated weapon technology allows the warfare in Little Wars to be relatively harmless compared to the “Real Thing.”

Famous for his “Imaginative Romances” and articles of social commentary that often forebode man’s destruction at the hands of increasingly dangerous weapons, Wells unsurprisingly uses Little Wars to once more expound his beliefs:

And if I might for a moment trumpet! How much better is this amiable miniature than the Real Thing! . . . Here is the premeditation, the thrill, the strain of accumulating victory or disaster—and no smashed nor sanguinary bodies, no shattered fine buildings nor devastated country sides, no petty cruelties, none of that awful universal boredom and embitterment, that tiresome delay or stoppage or embarrassment of every gracious bold, sweet, and charming thing, that we who are old enough to remember a real modern war know to be the reality of belligerence.[29]

It is this idea of a modern war that Wells fears and tries to leave out of his rulebook, an interesting but conscious choice for someone who regularly incorporated technology into his writings. Asimov would later remark in his foreword to Little Wars, “There is an air of glamor and excitement about war—past wars, that is, that one need not actually live through. The dangers and the daring and the gallant defeats and the clever stratagems and the final triumph—what can replace it? In the absence of reality, there is the driving desire to find a substitute.”[30] With such a gifted imagination, perhaps in miniatures Wells finally found a way to create a utopian version of war that (toy) technology allowed for rather than made monstrous.

However, throughout his life Wells was conflicted about war games. While in Little Wars Wells imagines his games as “a homeopathic remedy for the imaginative strategist,”[31] twenty-one years later in his autobiography he laments how the current educational system glamorizes war and socializes children to desire to reconstruct it: “I think there is no natural bias towards bloodshed in imaginative youngsters, but the only vivid and inspiring things that history fed me with were campaigns and conquests.”[32] He claims that his pre-World War I self saw war games as an outlet, but the beginning of the “Great War” affected his outlook: “Up to 1914, I found a lively interest in playing a war game, with toy soldiers and guns, that recalled a peculiar quality and pleasure of those early reveries.”[33] In fact, Wells seems to have come to the belief that these games and the culture that produced them were actually dangerous as opposed to an outlet.[34] He bemoans that “men in responsible positions” such as Winston Churchill, had imaginations “built upon a similar framework” causing them to remain “puerile in their political outlook.”[35] Instead, Wells believed he had moved beyond his little wars: “I like to think I grew up out of that stage somewhere between 1916 and 1920 and began to think about war as a responsible adult should.”[36] But something about war games attracted Wells. He certainly continued to include depictions of war games in his works, from the kriegspiel in The World Set Free (1914) to toy soldiers in Joan and Peter (1918). Far from Wells growing out of "that stage," Morgan Fritz even argues that we can see the same sort of desire for control over miniatures in Wells's fiction.[37] Regardless of what Wells actually felt about war games, it was a motif he kept returning to, and his rules would go on to affect the future of the genre.

Little Wars and Influence

Despite Wells recanting his belief that little wars could help curtail great ones, many other war gamers have continued to see play as an outlet for violence. In his foreword to a 2004 edition of Little Wars, tabletop gaming icon Gary Gygax admits to defending war gaming with an argument very similar to Wells’s claim in Little Wars; Gygax explains that “miniature soldiers leave no widows or orphans, and that if more people were busy fighting little wars, they might not be involved in fighting big ones.”[38] But Gygax found far more inspiration in Wells than a stance on the importance of war gaming; Gygax praises Wells’s game for its formative role in the development of his own tabletop games in the 1970s:

Little Wars influenced my development of both the Chainmail miniatures rules and the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game. For example, it established the concept of a burst radius for cannon rounds, an idea that was translated into both the Chainmail catapult missile diameters and the areas of effect for Fireballs in D&D.[39]

By declaring the adaptation of Wells’s rules for his own works, Gygax reveals a piece of the transmission history of common game mechanics. Burst Radius and Area of Effect have proliferated beyond tabletop gaming into the digital world of video games by way of Dungeons & Dragons, and have become colloquialized into the common acronym AoE. Examples of the reliance on the concept of AoE are numerous: World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Dragon Age are popular and prime examples of the simple application of Euclidean geometry as Wells prescribes it for operationalizing cannon fire or any analogous mechanism a game may desire to express. How far the concept has come from lengths of string and a spring-loaded toy![40]

We mention Gygax not to divert interest from how innovative and interesting Little Wars is in and of itself, but to include an additional motive for its study and its relevance to game studies in particular. The passage above shows how the theory of transmission, well known to textual scholars and editors, can be seen as an overt force that works in a unique way when compared to traditional textual transmission. The way a concept such as a rule carries through time and through different works by different authors highlights how games, although narratives in their own right, are also just as much texts in a physical and phenomenological sense, capable of being adapted and interpreted (as we do in the streamlined rules), but also borrowed from, modernized, and, for lack of a better phrase, played with.

Little Wars is also special because of the previously mentioned “development diary” in chapter 2. This chapter traces Wells’s journey in not only creating but revising the rules of Little Wars; a book of rules was already revolutionary at the time, but that he described his process shows what a careful and thoughtful game designer Wells was. Not only can we view Wells’s rulebook in terms of what it has contributed to the games that have come after it, but also we are rewarded when Little Wars points back to itself, investing space in its own process of creation and refinement as a game worth carrying forward.

Editorial Statement

Our transcription is based on the first edition of Little Wars, published by Frank Palmer in 1913. We removed extra spacing around punctuation to make the text more readable but otherwise maintained Wells’s grammar and spelling. While Little Wars first appeared in Windsor Magazine, the magazine notes that Palmer maintains the copyright. Since Palmer had already released Floor Games with marginal illustrations—in fact, with marginal illustrations that Wells mentioned within the body of his text—we can assume that once again Palmer and Wells imagined a publication with similar marginalia. Because of this, we felt it particularly important to create a digital edition that allowed readers to see Little Wars in book form, something many (unedited) digital editions have failed to do.

In addition to notes that help contextualize the book or provide clarification, we have also noted possible issues and inconsistencies within the rules themselves. We have provided emendations to these issues in our streamlined rules, which, although derived from Wells’s, are simplified in order to make the game more accessible and playable. These streamlined rules are meant to encourage play, but they are also the product of an interpretive process of clarifying Wells’s rules. Those who wish to adopt and play Little Wars may review our notes in the body of the text to determine whether or not they agree with the decisions we have made.


Our XML is based on the TEI P5 guidelines. To our knowledge, there have not been published or extended discussions of how TEI may be used for the markup of games and rules. Thus, many of our decisions were made through a combination of both intuition and trial and error. Our decisions are based on how best to treat the rules in Little Wars in a way that represents Wells’s organizational structure: he created divisions for his instructions (for instance, combat would be one division and movement another) and then used lists to organize specifications. Since the text exists as a means of guiding play, we felt that encoding the rules helped to accentuate the game itself as the core of Little Wars, and the rules' representation as discrete parts of the text formed the basis for our encoding decisions.

Each set of rules (as Wells groups them) are enclosed by <div> elements and represented by <list> with the @type attribute to declare the purpose (that is, usually, “instructions”) of the list. In some cases, where Wells further subdivides his rules (e.g., a rule 3 contains both rules 3a and 3b), <list> is used within <item> as well. The streamlined rules also follow the same standards for consistency, although they were written to be less complicated, in terms of format, than Wells’s writing.

In addition to the rules, our XML also attempts to be faithful to Wells’s own representation of the text and the structure of the book. To that extent, we encoded the bibliographical properties of the text, such as the page breaks or page signatures (marked by the <fw> tag) to show the book's physical composition. We have included <graphic> elements that point to the photographic inserts. While these inserts disrupt the body of the text, the photographs are valuable in that they help to clarify Wells’s descriptions of battle and highlight Little Wars as a means of participatory play.


There are many people we would like to thank for their help in making this edition happen and for their continued support. Jointly, we would like to show our immense gratitude to our editor, Nicole Gray, for her patience and assistance, and to our peer reviewers for their helpful feedback. We would also like to thank Laura Mandell for her encouragement and advice from the beginning, Mary Nelson for her transcription help, and Jason Fairfield for drafting the simplified rules. We are indebted to Florence Davies, who has put many hours into reading our work, both for this project and others. In addition, Nigel Lepianka would like to thank Amy Earhart, for tolerating this edition as a distraction from dissertation work; Neil Fraistat, for incorporating TEI and XML encoding into his graduate seminar; and Julia Flanders, for her advanced TEI course at 2014’s Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI). Deanna Stover would like to thank Erica Cavanaugh, Cathy Moran Hajo, and Jennifer Stertzer for their DHSI course on Conceptualizing and Creating a Digital Edition. Finally, we would like to thank the Institute for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture at Texas A&M University for the Programming4Humanists courses that helped in conceptualizing this project, and for covering Stover’s 2016 DHSI tuition.


1. Jon Peterson, Playing at the World: A History of Simulating Wars, People and Fantastic Adventures from Chess to Role-Playing Games, 2nd ed. (San Diego: Unreason Press, 2012), 16. [back]

2. Esther MacCallum-Stewart, “Wargaming (as) Literature,” in Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming, ed. Pat Harrigan and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016), 556. [back]

3. H. G. Wells, Little Wars (London: Frank Palmer, 1913), 63–64. [back]

4. TEI, the Text Encoding Initiative, is a set of standards—established by an organization of the same name—for marking up text in the XML language. XML is a hierarchical language that uses elements, or tags, to label portions of a text based on a set of classifications (e.g., page breaks, lists, and images are all marked as such in XML). TEI is used in the creation of digital editions such as this because it allows editors more control over how their texts are viewed, read, or otherwise processed in digital environments (by both humans and machines). [back]

5. Wells, Little Wars, 96–97. We, of course, do not wish for you to grovel. [back]

6. Wells, “Little Wars,” Windsor Magazine, December 1912, 39–50; January 1913, 244–52. You can find digital copies here and here. [back]

7. Kenneth D. Brown speculates that Wells named this character Britten after the influential toy maker William Britain. “Modelling for War? Toy Soldiers in Late Victorian and Edwardian Britain,” Journal of Social History 24 (1990): 252. [back]

8. H. G. Wells, The New Machiavelli (New York: Duffard and Company, 1910), 79. [back]

9. Jon Peterson, “A Game Out of All Proportion: How a Hobby Miniaturized War,” in Harrigan and Kirschenbaum, Zones of Control, 10. [back]

10. Brown, "Modelling for War?," 237. [back]

11. Peterson, Playing at the World, 265. [back]

12. Kimberley Reynolds, Left Out: The Forgotten Tradition of Radical Publishing for Children in Britain, 1910–1949 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). [back]

13. Like Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about his imagined battles after the game as if he were reporting on the war. Unlike Wells, Stevenson was not famous when he was playing his war games. However, a portion of Stevenson’s game descriptions were published as “Stevenson at Play: With an Introduction by Lloyd Osbourne” in Scribner’s Magazine in December 1898. You can find this publication, along with Stevenson’s poem “A Marital Elegy for Some Lead Soldiers” (just one of his poems about toy soldiers), here. [back]

14. Brown, "Modelling for War?," 241. [back]

15. Nesbit and Wells knew each other from the Fabian Society, but by the time of these projects they had a strained relationship; however, it is possible that Wells and Nesbit were influenced by each other. Jan Susina, “Textual Building Blocks: Charles Dickens and E. Nesbit’s Literary Borrowings in Five Children and It,” in E. Nesbit’s Psammead Trilogy: A Children’s Classic at 100 (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2006): 165–66n1. [back]

16. H. G. Wells, Floor Games (London: Frank Palmer, 1911), 71. [back]

17. James Opie, Britain's Toy Soldiers: The History and Handbook, 1893–2013 (South Yorkshire: Pen and Ink Military, 2016), 75. [back]

18. Wells, Little Wars, 99–100. [back]

19. Wells, “Little Wars,” 252. [back]

20. Peterson, “A Game Out of All Proportion,” 10. [back]

21. Wells, “The Possible Collapse of Civilisation (1909),” in Social Forces in England and America (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1914), 387. [back]

22. W. Warren Wagar, H. G. Wells: Traversing Time (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2004), 135. [back]

23. Interestingly, aside from a man with a bow and arrow on the first page of chapter 1, all the marginal illustrations appear to depict British soldiers. However, William Britain’s toy soldiers often “came in sets of opposing armies, and their production provides a virtual catalog of European and extra-European conflict between 1985 and 1914.” Brown, "Modelling for War?," 245. [back]

24. Peterson, Playing at the World, 113. [back]

25. Peterson, Playing at the World, 268. [back]

26. Wells, Little Wars, 99. [back]

27. In Cynthia Asquith’s autobiography, she reminisces about her brother, Ego, playing Little Wars: “There was a remarkably uncomfortable phase when practically every inch of 62 Cadogan Square—staircase and all—was given up to a war game invented by H. G. Wells and played with toy mechanical guns and tin soldiers.” Haply I May Remember (London: J. Barrie, 1950), 169. [back]

28. Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (London: Duke University Press, 1993), 69. [back]

29. Wells, Little Wars, 97. [back]

30. Isaac Asimov, foreword to Little Wars (New York: Macmillan, 1970), n.p. [back]

31. Wells, Little Wars, 97. [back]

32. H. G. Wells, An Experiment in Autobiography: Discoveries and Conclusions of a Very Ordinary Brain (New York: Macmillan, 1934), 74. [back]

33. Wells, An Experiment, 75. [back]

34. Notably, even before World War I some people spoke out against toy soldiers, including Oscar Wilde’s wife, Constance Lloyd. Brown, "Modelling for War?," 246. Brown and other scholars have also made causal connections between the popularization of militarism in Britain during the years before 1914 and the coming war. [back]

35. Wells, An Experiment, 76. [back]

36. Wells, An Experiment, 76. [back]

37. Morgan Fritz, “Miniaturization and Cosmopolitan Future History in the Fiction of H. G. Wells,” Science Fiction Studies 37 (2010): 210–29. [back]

38. Gary Gygax, foreword to Little Wars (Spring Branch, TX: Skirmisher Publishing, 2004), xxi. [back]

39. Gygax, foreword, xxi–xxii. [back]

40. Wells credits Little Wars to the invention of toy cannons, and he recommends string as a measurement device during game play. Developing “toy” technologies have continued to make war-gaming more sophisticated. [back]