The British Library in London currently has an exhibit featuring two early steampunk novels: Homunculus (winner of the Philip K. Dick award for best paperback science fiction novel in 1985) and Lord Kelvin's Machine, published in 1992 by Professor of English James Blaylock.
Also on display is a copy of Dr. Blaylock’s steampunk short story, "The Ape-box Affair," published in 1977 by Unearth magazine.
“The Ape-box Affair” was in fact the first steampunk story to be published in the U.S. (for which he won the first ever Airship Award).
Where did steampunk orginate from?
Although many works now considered seminal to the genre were published in the 1960s and 1970s, the term steampunk originated in the late 1980s as a tongue in cheek variant of cyberpunk. It seems to have been coined by science fiction author K.W. Jeter, who was trying to find a general term for works by Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates, 1983); James Blacklock (Homunculus, 1986); and himself (Morlock Night), 1979, and Infernal Devices, 1987)—all of which took place in a 19th-century (usually Victorian) setting and imitated conventions of such actual Victorian speculative fiction as H. G. Wells' The Time Machine.