In 1909, The Strand Magazine Imagined What Would Happen If Giant Insects Attacked London
The Strand was a monthly magazine of short fiction and general interest articles, a sort of London version of The New Yorker. It was published in the UK from 1891 to 1950, running to 711 issues. The magazine’s offices were on Burleigh Street off The Strand, London, hence the name.
The Sherlock Holmes short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle were first published in The Strand. With the serialization of Doyle’s The Hound Of The Baskervilles, readers lined up outside the magazine’s offices, waiting to get the next installment. Other contributors to the magazine included: H. G. Wells, Agatha Christie, Rudyard Kipling, Dorothy L. Sayers, P. G. Wodehouse and Winston Churchill.
In 1909, they ran an alarming feature: If Insects Were Bigger. The editors inserted photographs of ordinary insects into contemporary Edwardian London street scenes, with rather terrifying results, writing:
“What a terrible calamity, what a stupefying circumstance, if mosquitoes were the size of camels, and a herd of wild slugs the size of elephants invaded our gardens and had to be shot with rifles!”
”It is true we are still molested by hordes of wild animals of bloodthirsty propensities. These wild animals only lack the single quality–namely, that of size–to render them all-powerful and all-desolating, and this quality they have not been able to attain owing to the lack of favouring conditions.”
The Strand piece was an early part of a trend and may have been an influence on the Cold War allegory “Giant Bug” films a half century later: Them! is the 1954 American black-and-white science fiction giant insect movie from Warner Bros. Mothra (1961) features a giant moth that attacks Japan and spawns 10 sequels. The Deadly Mantis (1957) has 200-foot-long praying mantis, trapped in the ice at the North Pole for millions of years and revived by global warming, that brings havoc and terror to the USA.