Who was the first person to die on Mars (in fiction)?

Timely, if morbid, I was just wondering…well, as the title says, who was the first (fictional) person to die on Mars?

The criteria being:

A) The person must be a human, from Earth. Preferably a named person, at that.
B) It’s going by date of publication, not in-story date.

Bonus points if the real-world location (on Mars) can be concretely identified with any precision.

The first one I can think of, off the top of my mind, from Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles:

Nathaniel York, from the First Expedition to Mars—bee-shot by a jealous Martian husband.

Publication date (of that story/chapter): 1950.

I imagine there might be a few contenders from Edison’s Conquest of Mars, from 1898, but I haven’t read the whole thing, yet.

So…anyone else have any ideas?

Does Barsoom count from the John Carter of Mars Series?

So John Carter himself died on Mars, “Written between July and September 28, 1911”

Are we going with publication date or date of death in-story?

Sez who? Carter doesn’t die in any of Burroughs’ stories. In fact, Burroughs sort of gives the idea that he is practically an eternal being.

I’ve read Edison’s Conquest of Mars a couple of times, and don’t recall anyone dying on Mars in it. Nor in Kurd Lasswitz’ Zwei Planete (Two Planets). Not i Edwin Arnold’s Gullivar of Mars, nor Stanley G. Weinbaum’s “A Martian Odyssey” or its sequel

The closest thing that comes to mind is Robert Cromie’s 1890 A Plunge Into Space, which tells a story eerily similar to Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations” – a girl stowaway on the space ship dies because her presence makes the ship un-handleable. Only the girl is herself a Martian, and she dies in space, not on Mars.

I recall he died at the end of the first book but then was back on earth.

Is that incorrect?

I read that book for an Internet radio show, and I can tell you some human ships get incinerated by some manner of lightning gun. They’re fighting through the “choking black smoke” and fighting off Martian “airships”. Some ninety human ships are shot down, and the location is “The Lake of the Sun”.

It was first published in 1898.

In truth, it feels like it barely qualifies.

Jane Faro, mother of The Magician From Mars, in 1939?

The answer is Jesus.

No, seriously. I flipped through the index entries for Mars in Everett Bleiler’s monumental Science Fiction: The Early Years. He somehow found (almost) every proto-science fiction story ever published (in, obviously, non-science fiction publications) and gave summaries of their plots, thousands of them. Incredible and seemingly impossible. Moreover, he did a sequel called The Gernsback Years.

Anyway, I hit Visitors from Mars: A Narrative, by Charles Cole, published in 1901. The narrator is visited by a Martian, who takes him to Mars and tells him all about the superior virtues of the planet’s society. (I.e., how Earthlings should behave: it’s one of those.) They’ve been coming to Earth for centuries to try to uplift us primitives, but with little success. Jesus, for example, had been educated on Mars and when he was crucified they rescued him from the cross and brought him back to Mars. Where he died.

Bleiler calls this “a curiosity,” and I can’t disagree.

If John Carter dies in a Forest, but wakes up on Earth, is he dead?

Especially if he shows up for the sequel back on Mars?

Multiple Earthlings end up on Barsoom, and many people die on Barsoom, but I don’t think the death of any of the Earthlings is explicit. And even if you count the end of the first book as John Carter dying, it’s not even actually clear that Carter himself is an Earthling. I think that the simplest explanation is that he is, literally, Mars, the God of War.

Another series I thought of was C. S. Lewis’s space trilogy, but none of the humans in that one dies on Mars (despite their best efforts to antagonize the locals). One human (or at least, his body) does die on Venus, though.

So far, it looks like Edison’s Conquest of Mars is the winner, if we can get confirmation that some of the invading Earthling ships were shot down. Unless you want to nitpick that being in atmospheric approach to a landing doesn’t count as “on Mars”.

I know that there were some fantastical tales of travel to other planets centuries before then… Can anyone find any of those with a human casualty?

In what way is this story less persuasive than the original?

I can’t do any better for confirmation than an actual quote. So, lucky you, I’m literally quoting from Edison’s Conquest of Mars, Chapter XI:

The Flagship Charmed!

Our flagship seemed charmed. A crowd of airships hung upon it like a swarm of angry bees, and, at times, one could not see for the lightning strokes—yet we escaped destruction, while ourselves dealing death on every hand.

It was a glorious fight, but it was not war; no, it was not war. We really had no more chance of ultimate success amid that multitude of enemies than a prisoner running the gauntlet in a crowd of savages has of escape.

A conviction of the hopelessness of the contest finally forced itself upon our minds, and the shattered squadron, which had kept well together amid the storm of death, was signalled to retreat.

Shaking off their pursuers, as a hunted bear shakes off the dogs, sixty of the electrical ships rose up through the clouds where more than ninety had gone down!

Madly we rushed upward through the vast curtain and continued our flight to a great elevation, far beyond the reach of the awful artillery of the enemy.

I vaguely remember Dante’s Divine Comedy, thirteenth century, having dead warriors on Mars. I don’t remember if they were brought to Mars to die or if that’s just where their souls reside after death.


Dante talks to some of those guys, like his own great-grandfather, and it is known that the latter died in Israel, not on Mars.

That’s right, he was a crusader that died in Israel. Nevermind.