If England Were Invaded
Distributed for Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Eight years before the onset of World War I, as national hysteria over the possibility of German spies in England reached its peak, journalist and prolific spy novelist William Le Queux penned The Invasion of 1910. Although it has since faded from public memory, at the time of its serialization, the novel was a tremendous success, selling more than one million copies and even inspiring an unauthorized, abridged German-language edition that altered the book’s ending.
If England Were Invaded restores this major work of “invasion literature” to print. Le Queux constructs a catastrophic scenario in which the German army has invaded England in a surprise attack on the coast. The story chillingly chronicles a war fought on the British homeland, with detailed accounts of battles involving real locations and real defense experts of the time. Throughout, Le Queux brings to life the domestic realities of a nation at war, from food shortages and failing financial institutions to the ever-present threat of espionage. One by one, strategic cities and counties in the novel—Birmingham, Manchester, and Suffolk—are abandoned to the German army until it stands poised to “advance upon and crush the complex city which is the pride and home of every Englishman—London.”
A truly entertaining read—complete with campaign maps and fictional proclamations from Kaiser Wilhelm II—If England Were Invaded also offers an incredible cautionary tale about a country that was not prepared for an attack and, in doing so, it shines a light on the common hopes and fears in England at the beginning of the twentieth century.