The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (1895)
Although the Victorian aesthetic of modern steampunk is a throwback, H.G. Wells’ stories were set in Victorian England because that’s where he lived! The overall feel of his work, specifically The Time Machine, are considered by just about everybody to be the origins of steampunk as a genre. Back then, it was just regular old “science fiction”, but The Time Machine really laid the groundwork for the subgenre we now all know and love.