The Angel of The Revolution
Continuing the series on books that have inspired the walks in our Literary Footprints festival. This time Rob talks about “The Angel of the Revolution: A Tale of the Coming Terror” by George Chetwyn Griffith
In the late 19th century a genre that has been described as Invasion Fiction became popular in Britain, stories that saw Britain invaded by foreign powers or beings from another world. Perhaps it was a fear arising from Britain starting to lose its economic and military advantage over European rivals that caused Invasion Fiction to sell well, whatever the reason the books all share the common theme of seeing London landmarks destroyed, sleepy suburbs become battle grounds. My favourite is the 1893 story “The Angel of the Revolution”. The book sees London under siege by French, Italian and Russian troops, it’s population massacred by cyanide bombs dropped by deadly Russian war balloons. Help is at hand for London though – in the form of powerful flying machines crewed by an army of anarchists led by a beautiful woman called Natasha, who are intent on sparking a world revolution. What’s not to like?
While this rip roaring story may seem a little too incredible (not least when an injured pilot is revived by drinking a bottle of champagne from the flying machines dining quarters), the idea of a civilian population under siege would be fresh in readers minds, coming twenty years after the siege of Paris in the Franco Prussian war, while the harrowing scenes describing the aerial bombardment of London are reminiscent of the treatment London would receive in 1940.
I will be talking about the various ways authors have plotted the end for London – whether through fire, flood, plague or brutal dictatorship, in my walk London Destroyed on 24th October at 7pm