Prime Minister William Gladstone even felt compelled to address the Battle of Dorking sensation in a speech decrying the dangers of alarmism. "I should not mind this Battle of Dorking, if we could keep it to ourselves," he said in a speech to the Working Men's Liberal Association on Sept. 2, 1871. "But unfortunately these things go abroad and they make us ridiculous in the eyes of the world."
Indeed, the phenomenon had already crossed the Channel. As Clarke writes, "From 1871 onwards, Chesney's story showed Europe how to manipulate the new literature of anxiety and belligerent nationalism. Between 1871 and 1914 it was unusual to find a single year without some tale of future warfare appearing in some European country. Italy had La Guerra del 190 -- a story of future naval defeat. In the story Vulnerable by Sea in 1900, a German author told of a future war against the combined forces of Russia, France, and Italy. The pseudonymous French author Capitaine Danrit churned out a series of jingoistic stories of 20th century warfare between 1889 and 1893 in a series titled The War of Tomorrow.
And back in England, writers continued to pump out anti-German, anti-French, and even anti-American diatribes in the form of invasion stories. (French and English authors often traded volleys across the Channel by writing similarly themed stories with different outcomes.) The master of the form was the famed yellow journalist and propagandist William Le Queux -- Queen Alexandra's favorite writer -- who enthralled readers of the Daily Mail in the 1890s and 1890s with serialized titles like The Great War in England in 1897, The Invasion of 1910, and England's Peril, the last of which infuriated the French government with the suggestion that its embassy in London was a nest of spies. Well-known authors like Arthur Conan Doyle, A.A. Milne, and H.G. Wells also penned future war stories. (The War of the Worlds was in many ways just an update of The Battle of Dorking with Martians substituted for Germans.) And P.G. Wodehouse of Jeeves fame parodied the genre in his novel The Swoop!
Naturally, it was only a matter of time before the genre crossed the Atlantic. Invasion stories were a staple of the American popular press from the 1880s on. As Clarke notes, the fact that -- as opposed to European countries -- the United States didn't face any major external threats at the time meant that "American writers were free to declare war upon any nations they considered to be a threat to the future of the United States -- British, Canadians, Chinese, Mexicans, Spanish, or Japanese." The Chinese threat was a particularly popular topic during the "Yellow Peril" craze of the late 19th century. And the British -- often with their evil Canadian compadres -- were popular villains, at least until Germany emerged as a clear adversary in the years leading up to World War I.
One notable example was H. Irving Hancock's 1916 popular young adult novel Uncle Sam's Boys at the Battle of Boston. Like Chesney, Hancock's tale, set in the year 1920, was making the case that the United States was insufficiently prepared for the possible future defense of the homeland:
"Mr. Prescott, if the Americans are headed toward complete disaster at last, be sure that they fully deserve it. For years the Americans have been told, daily, that they were not prepared for just such an invasion as is now coming upon us. The military experts of this country have begged Congress to authorize a larger and more efficient fleet, and to provide an army large enough for handling capably anything that an enemy might try to do to us. But Congress and the people have gone on laughing -- and now, over night, we find ourselves at war, and an enemy at our gates in numbers that assure the capture of every really valuable part of this country of ours!"