Introduction
Early Bicycles
Bicycle Touring
Cycling in Fiction
Women Awheel
Cycling Music
 
Credits

 

Cycling in Fiction

"At last!"
    Rollo Johnson arose from his work and gave vent to the above.
    His friend, Paul Jefferson, who stood by his side, asked: "Are you sure you have succeeded?"
    "Yes," replied Rollo, a proud flush coming to his cheek. "With this bicycle I am quite sure I can make the fastest time that has ever been made." Well might our hero flush, for now at the age of 8 he had accomplished what Edison had failed to do. He had built a bicycle to be operated by electricity!

–George Ade, Rollo Johnson, the Boy Inventor, or The Demon Bicycle and Its Daring Rider (1903)
Rollo Johnson (1903)
Rollo Johnson (1903)

Three Men on a Wheel (1890)
The Bicyclers (1896)
John Kendrick Bangs was a turn-of-the-century humorist and speaker who counted among his friends such well-known literary figures as Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling. Although one modern critic has dismissed Bangs as "an intelligent, literate man who deliberately wrote fluff," his works reflect the lighthearted attitude of his time. The Bicyclers (1896) is a short farce about a group of friends who have gotten caught up in the cycling craze of the 1890s. One of them gets arrested for riding around New York City at night without a bicycle lamp—a surprisingly common offence in the early days of cycling (see "Get Your Lamps Lit!" under Cycling Music).
Published in Britain as Three Men on a Bummel, Jerome K. Jerome's comedy Three Men on Wheels (1st American ed., 1890) is the story of a cycling tour through the Black Forest in Germany. At times eerily prophetic about the coming of war between Britain and Germany, Jerome uses comedy as a means of social commentary, making fun of the Germans for their lack of humor and criticizing British travelers for going abroad only to look down their noses at foreign cultures. Working his way up from humble origins, Jerome became a prolific author as well as a traveler and adventurer. He was one of the pioneers of skiing and traveled to America and Russia several times.
Three Men on a Wheel (1890)
Three Men on Wheels (1890)
The Wheels of Chance (1896)
The Wheels of Chance (1896)
H.G. Wells, best known as the author of the classic science fiction novels The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, was an enthusiastic cyclist who cast the bicycle in many of his works. The Wheels of Chance: A Holiday Adventure (1896), his second novel, is the story of a down-on-his-luck draper's assistant who takes a ramshackle second-hand bicycle on a tour through the English countryside. He meets a young woman on the run from her seducer in addition to a string of other amusing characters, and while the plot is thin compared to Wells' futuristic stories, The Wheels of Chance is an interesting source of social commentary, especially on the British upper class, and provides a colorful snapshot of cycling at the turn of the twentieth century.

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