Settings and Structure (The War of the Worlds)
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Settings in The War of the Worlds

Much of The War of the Worlds is set in Woking in Surrey southern England and its nearby suburbs, where HG Wells lived with his wife, Catherine. The landing site of the first cylinder in the novel, Horsell Common, was within easy walking distance of the Wells’ home. One of the features of the novel is the small geographical area – the Narrator takes his wife to Leatherhead to protect her from the Martians, He then makes his way through a number of small towns including Weybridge and Shepperton. London also plays a part in the novel as the Narrator’s brother recounts the mass exodus out of the city. The Narrator himself ends up in London at the end of the book.  

As the novel progresses, the destruction of the settings and environment is apparent with destroyed buildings, dead and dying people in the streets, black dust and red weed covering everything.

Key settings in the novel

Woking – The Narrator’s home is in Woking.

Horsell Common - The site of the first cylinder landing.

Leatherhead - Home of the Narrator’s cousin, seen as a place of safety.

Shepperton – Shepperton is the scene of a Martian attack.

Sheen - Where the fifth cylinder lands and buries the Narrator and the Curate.

Putney Hill - Where the Narrator meets the Artillary Man.

London – Where the Narrator’s brother recounts the flight from the city.


The story is narrated by one person and told in hindsight about events that occurred six years previously. The events of the novel span about a month. The Narrator is very observant and his tone is very realistic and detailed this makes his style almost like a reporter or journalist. He doesn’t tell us as readers how he feels about things much but more about what he sees .

The plot mostly follows in chronological order what happens between the landing of the first cylinder on Horsell Common and the Narrator’s return home after the death of the Martians. Occasionally the narrative is interrupted to include scientific details learned later which are inserted throughout the book.

The Narrator tells the story of his brother and his experiences when escaping from London. What happens to the Narrator is the main focus of the story and the chapters are broken up by significant events of his life during the time of the war.

The novel is split into two books, Book 1 – The Coming of the Martians, and Book 2 – The Earth Under the Martians. Each chapter has its own title.



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