H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells

Wells pictured some time before 1916
Born Herbert George Wells
21 September 1866(1866-09-21)
Bromley, Kent, England, United Kingdom
Died 13 August 1946(1946-08-13) (aged 79)
London, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Novelist, teacher, historian, journalist
Nationality British
Alma mater Royal College of Science (Imperial College London)
Genres Science fiction (notably social science fiction)
Notable work(s) The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The War of the Worlds, The First Men in the Moon, The Shape of Things to Come

Herbert George Wells (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946)[1] was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games. Together with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback, Wells has been referred to as "The Father of Science Fiction".[2]

Wells was an outspoken socialist and sympathetic to pacifist views, although he supported the First World War once it was under way, and his later works became increasingly political and didactic. His middle-period novels (1900–1920) were less science-fictional; they covered lower-middle class life (The History of Mr Polly) and the "New Woman" and the Suffragettes (Ann Veronica).


Early life

Herbert George Wells was born at Atlas House, 47 High Street, Bromley, in the county of Kent, a small market town,[3] on 21 September 1866.[1] Called "Bertie" in the family, he was the fourth and last child of Joseph Wells (a former domestic gardener, and at the time a shopkeeper and professional cricketer) and his wife Sarah Neal (a former domestic servant). The family was of the impoverished lower middle class. An inheritance had allowed the family to acquire a shop in which they sold china and sporting goods, although it failed to prosper: the stock was old and worn out, and the location was poor. Joseph Wells managed to earn a meagre income, but little of it came from the shop; Joseph received an unsteady amount of money from playing professional cricket for the Kent county team.[4] Payment for skilled bowlers and batsmen came from voluntary donations afterwards, or from small payments from the clubs where matches were played.

A defining incident of young Wells's life was an accident he had in 1874, which left him bedridden with a broken leg.[1] To pass the time he started reading books from the local library, brought to him by his father. He soon became devoted to the other worlds and lives to which books gave him access; they also stimulated his desire to write. Later that year he entered Thomas Morley's Commercial Academy, a private school founded in 1849 following the bankruptcy of Morley's earlier school. The teaching was erratic, the curriculum mostly focused, Wells later said, on producing copperplate handwriting and doing the sort of sums useful to tradesmen. Wells continued at Morley's Academy until 1880. In 1877, his father, Joseph Wells, fractured his thigh. The accident effectively put an end to Joseph's career as a cricketer, and his subsequent earnings as a shopkeeper were not enough to compensate for the loss of the primary source of family income.

No longer able to support themselves financially, the family instead sought to place their sons as apprentices in various occupations. From 1880 to 1883, Wells had an unhappy apprenticeship as a draper at the Southsea Drapery Emporium, Hyde's.[5] His experiences at Hyde's, where he worked a thirteen hour day and slept in a dormitory with other apprentices,[3] were later used as inspiration for some of his novel material The Wheels of Chance and Kipps,[6] which delve into the life of a draper's apprentice as well as providing a critique of the world's distribution of wealth.

Herbert's parents' marriage was a turbulent relationship: due primarily to his mother being a Protestant and his father a self-confessed freethinker. When his mother returned to work as a lady's maid (at Uppark, a country house in Sussex), one of the conditions of work was that she would not be permitted to have living space for her husband and children. Thereafter, she and Joseph lived separate lives: though they never divorced and neither ever developed extramarital liaisons. As a consequence, Herbert's personal troubles increased as he subsequently failed as a draper and also, later, as a chemist's assistant. After each failure, he would arrive at Uppark — "the bad shilling back again!" as he said — and stay there until a fresh start could be arranged for him. Fortunately for Herbert, Uppark had a magnificent library in which he immersed himself, reading many classic works, including Plato's Republic, and More's Utopia. This would be the beginning of Herbert George Wells's venture into literature.


H. G. Wells studying in London, taken circa 1890
H. G. Wells in 1907 at the door of his house at Sandgate

In October 1879 Wells's mother arranged through a distant relative, Arthur Williams, for him to join the National School at Wookey in Somerset as a pupil-teacher, a senior pupil who acted as a teacher of younger children.[5] In December that year, however, Williams was dismissed for irregularities in his qualifications and Wells was returned to Uppark. After a short apprenticeship at a chemist in nearby Midhurst, and an even shorter stay as a boarder at Midhurst Grammar School, he signed his apprenticeship papers at Hyde's. In 1883 Wells persuaded his parents to release him from the apprenticeship, taking an opportunity offered by Midhurst Grammar School again to become a pupil-teacher; his proficiency in Latin and science during his previous, short stay had been remembered.[4][5]

The years he spent in Southsea had been the most miserable of his life to that point, but his good fortune at securing a position at Midhurst Grammar School meant that Wells could continue his self-education in earnest.[4] The following year, Wells won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science (later the Royal College of Science in South Kensington, now part of Imperial College London) in London, studying biology under Thomas Henry Huxley. As an alumnus, he later helped to set up the Royal College of Science Association, of which he became the first president in 1909. Wells studied in his new school until 1887 with a weekly allowance of twenty-one shillings (a guinea) thanks to his scholarship. This ought to have been a comfortable sum of money (at the time many working class families had "round about a pound a week" as their entire household income)[7] yet in his Experiment in Autobiography, Wells speaks of constantly being hungry, and indeed, photographs of him at the time show a youth very thin and malnourished.

He soon entered the Debating Society of the school. These years mark the beginning of his interest in a possible reformation of society. At first approaching the subject through The Republic by Plato, he soon turned to contemporary ideas of socialism as expressed by the recently formed Fabian Society and free lectures delivered at Kelmscott House, the home of William Morris. He was also among the founders of The Science School Journal, a school magazine which allowed him to express his views on literature and society, as well as trying his hand at fiction: the first version of his novel The Time Machine was published in the journal under the title, The Chronic Argonauts. The school year 1886–1887 was the last year of his studies. In spite of having previously successfully passed his exams in both biology and physics, his lack of interest in geology resulted in his failure to pass and the subsequent loss of his scholarship.

It was not until 1890 that Wells earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of London External Programme. In 1889–90 he managed to find a post as a teacher at Henley House School where he taught and admired A. A. Milne.[8][9]

Upon leaving the Normal School of Science, Wells was left without a source of income. His aunt Mary—his father's sister-in-law—invited him to stay with her for a while, which solved his immediate problem of accommodation. During his stay at his aunt's residence, he grew increasingly interested in her daughter, Isabel. He would later go on to court her.

Personal life

H. G. Wells's home in the mid-1890s: 143 Maybury Road, Woking[10]

In 1891 Wells, married his cousin Isabel Mary Wells, but left her in 1894 for one of his students, Amy Catherine Robbins (known as Jane), whom he married in 1895.[11] Poor health took him to Sandgate, near Folkestone, where in 1901 he constructed a large family home—Spade House. He had two sons with Amy Catherine: George Philip (known as "Gip") in 1901 (d.1985) and Frank Richard in 1903.[12]

During his marriage to Amy Robbins, Wells had affairs with a number of women, including the American birth-control activist Margaret Sanger[13] and novelist Elizabeth von Arnim. In 1909 he had a daughter, Anna-Jane, with the writer Amber Reeves,[12] whose parents, William and Maud Pember Reeves, he had met through the Fabian Society; and in 1914, a son, Anthony West (1914–1987), by the novelist and feminist Rebecca West, twenty-six years his junior.[14] Despite Amy Catherine's knowledge of some of these affairs, she remained married to Wells until her death in 1927.[12] Wells also had affairs with Odette Keun and Moura Budberg.

"I was never a great amorist", Wells wrote in Experiment in Autobiography (1934), "though I have loved several people very deeply".


As one method of self-expression, Wells tended to draw a lot. One common location for these sketches was the endpapers and title pages of his own diaries, and they covered a wide variety of topics, from political commentary to his feelings toward his literary contemporaries and his current romantic interests. During his marriage to Amy Catherine, whom he nicknamed Jane, he sketched a considerable number of pictures, many of them being overt comments on their marriage. It was during this period, and this period only, that he called his sketches "picshuas".[15] These picshuas have been the topic of study by Wells scholars for many years, and recently a book was published on the subject.[16]


Wells's first non-fiction bestseller was Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought (1901).[17] When originally serialised in a magazine it was subtitled, "An Experiment in Prophecy", and is considered his most explicitly futuristic work. Anticipating what the world would be like in the year 2000, the book is interesting both for its hits (trains and cars resulting in the dispersion of population from cities to suburbs; moral restrictions declining as men and women seek greater sexual freedom; the defeat of German militarism, and the existence of a European Union) and its misses (he did not expect successful aircraft before 1950, and averred that "my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocate its crew and founder at sea").

Statue of a The War of the Worlds tripod, erected as a tribute to H. G. Wells in the centre of the town of Woking, England

His early novels, called "scientific romances", invented a number of themes now classic in science fiction in such works as The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, When the Sleeper Wakes, and The First Men in the Moon. He also wrote other, non-fantastic novels that have received critical acclaim including Kipps and the satire on Edwardian advertising, Tono-Bungay.

Wells wrote several dozen short stories and novellas, the best known of which is "The Country of the Blind" (1904). His short story "The New Accelerator" was the inspiration for the Star Trek episode Wink of an Eye.[18]

Though Tono-Bungay was not a science-fiction novel, radioactive decay plays a small but consequential role in it. Radioactive decay plays a much larger role in The World Set Free (1914). This book contains what is surely his biggest prophetic "hit". Scientists of the day were well aware that the natural decay of radium releases energy at a slow rate over thousands of years. The rate of release is too slow to have practical utility, but the total amount released is huge. Wells's novel revolves around an (unspecified) invention that accelerates the process of radioactive decay, producing bombs that explode with no more than the force of ordinary high explosive—but which "continue to explode" for days on end. "Nothing could have been more obvious to the people of the earlier twentieth century", he wrote, "than the rapidity with which war was becoming impossible... [but] they did not see it until the atomic bombs burst in their fumbling hands". Leó Szilárd acknowledged that the book inspired him to theorise the nuclear chain reaction.[19]

Wells also wrote nonfiction. His bestselling three-volume work, The Outline of History (1920), began a new era of popularised world history. It received a mixed critical response from professional historians.[20] Many other authors followed with "Outlines" of their own in other subjects. Wells reprised his Outline in 1922 with a much shorter popular work, A Short History of the World,[21] and two long efforts, The Science of Life (1930) and The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind (1931). The "Outlines" became sufficiently common for James Thurber to parody the trend in his humorous essay, "An Outline of Scientists"—indeed, Wells's Outline of History remains in print with a new 2005 edition, while A Short History of the World has been recently reedited (2006).

From quite early in his career, he sought a better way to organise society, and wrote a number of Utopian novels. The first of these was A Modern Utopia (1905), which shows a worldwide utopia with "no imports but meteorites, and no exports at all";[22] two travellers from our world fall into its alternate history. The others usually begin with the world rushing to catastrophe, until people realise a better way of living: whether by mysterious gases from a comet causing people to behave rationally and abandoning a European war (In the Days of the Comet (1906)), or a world council of scientists taking over, as in The Shape of Things to Come (1933, which he later adapted for the 1936 Alexander Korda film, Things to Come). This depicted, all too accurately, the impending World War, with cities being destroyed by aerial bombs. He also portrayed the rise of fascist dictators in The Autocracy of Mr Parham (1930) and The Holy Terror (1939).

H. G. Wells in 1943

Wells contemplates the ideas of nature versus nurture and questions humanity in books such as The Island of Doctor Moreau. Not all his scientific romances ended in a happy Utopia, and in fact, Wells also wrote the first dystopia novel, When the Sleeper Wakes (1899, rewritten as The Sleeper Awakes, 1910), which pictures a future society where the classes have become more and more separated, leading to a revolt of the masses against the rulers. The Island of Doctor Moreau is even darker. The narrator, having been trapped on an island of animals vivisected (unsuccessfully) into human beings, eventually returns to England; like Gulliver on his return from the Houyhnhnms, he finds himself unable to shake off the perceptions of his fellow humans as barely civilised beasts, slowly reverting to their animal natures.

Wells also wrote the preface for the first edition of W. N. P. Barbellion's diaries, The Journal of a Disappointed Man, published in 1919. Since "Barbellion" was the real author's pen name, many reviewers believed Wells to have been the true author of the Journal; Wells always denied this, despite being full of praise for the diaries, but the rumours persisted until Barbellion's death later that year.

In 1927, Florence Deeks sued Wells for plagiarism, claiming that he had stolen much of the content of The Outline of History from a work, The Web, she had submitted to the Canadian Macmillan Company, but who held onto the manuscript for eight months before rejecting it. Despite numerous similarities in phrasing and factual errors, the court found the evidence inadequate and dismissed the case. A Privy Council report added that, as Deek's work had not been printed, there were no legal grounds at all for the action.[23]

In 1933 Wells predicted in The Shape of Things to Come that the world war he feared would begin January 1940,[24] a prediction which ultimately came true just four months early, when the Second World War broke out in September 1939.[25]

In 1936, before the Royal Institution, Wells called for the compilation of a constantly growing and changing World Encyclopedia, to be reviewed by outstanding authorities and made accessible to every human being. In 1938, he published a collection of essays on the future organisation of knowledge and education, World Brain, including the essay, "The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopaedia".

Near the end of the Second World War, Allied forces discovered that the SS had compiled lists of people slated for immediate arrest during the invasion of Britain in the abandoned Operation Sea Lion, and Wells was included in the alphabetical list on the same page of "The Black Book" as Rebecca West.[26] Wells, as president of the International PEN (Poets, Essayists, Novelists), had already angered the Nazis by overseeing the expulsion of the German PEN club from the international body in 1934 following the German PEN's refusal to admit non-Aryan writers to its membership.

Seeking a more structured way to play war games, Wells also wrote Floor Games (1911) followed by Little Wars (1913). Little Wars is recognised today as the first recreational wargame and Wells is regarded by gamers and hobbyists as "the Father of Miniature War Gaming".[27]


The Fabian Society

Wells called his political views socialist. He was for a time a member of the socialist Fabian Society, but broke with them as his creative political imagination, matching the originality shown in his fiction, outran theirs.[28] He later grew staunchly critical of them as having a poor understanding of economics and educational reform. He ran as a Labour Party candidate for London University in the 1922 and 1923 general elections after the death of his friend W. H. R. Rivers, but at that point his faith in the party was weak or uncertain.


Social class was a theme in Wells's The Time Machine in which the Time Traveller speaks of the future world, with its two races, as having evolved from

the gradual widening of the present (19th century) merely temporary and social difference between the Capitalist and the Labourer ... Even now, does not an East-end worker live in such artificial conditions as practically to be cut off from the natural surface of the earth? Again, the exclusive tendency of richer people ... is already leading to the closing, in their interest, of considerable portions of the surface of the land. About London, for instance, perhaps half the prettier country is shut in against intrusion.[29]

Nevertheless, Wells has this very same Time Traveller speak in terms antithetical to much of socialist thought, referring approvingly and as "perfect" and with no social problem unsolved, to an imagined world of stark class division between the rich assured of their wealth and comfort, and the rest of humanity assigned to lifelong toil:

Once, life and property must have reached almost absolute safety. The rich had been assured of his wealth and comfort, the toiler assured of his life and work. No doubt in that perfect world there had been no unemployed problem, no social question left unsolved.[29]

World Government

His most consistent political ideal was the World State. He stated in his autobiography that from 1900 onward he considered a World State inevitable. He envisioned the state to be a planned society that would advance science, end nationalism, and allow people to progress by merit rather than birth.

World War I

He supported Britain in the First World War, despite his many criticisms of British policy, and opposed, in 1916, moves for an early peace.[30] In an essay published that year he acknowledged that he could not understand those British pacifists who were reconciled to "handing over great blocks of the black and coloured races to the [German Empire] to exploit and experiment upon" and that the extent of his own pacifism depended in the first instance upon an armed peace, with "England keep[ing] to England and Germany to Germany". State boundaries would be established according to natural ethnic affinities, rather than by planners in distant imperial capitals, and overseen by his envisaged world alliance of states.[31]

In his book In the Fourth Year published in 1918 he suggested how each nation of the world would elect, "upon democratic lines" by proportional representation, an electoral college in the manner of the United States of America, in turn to select its delegate to the proposed League of Nations.[32] This international body he contrasted with imperialism, not only the imperialism of Germany, against which the war was being fought, but also the imperialism, which he considered more benign, of Britain and France.[33]

His values and political thinking came under increasing criticism from the 1920s and afterwards.[34]

The Soviet Union

The leadership of Joseph Stalin led to a change in his view of the Soviet Union even though his initial impression of Stalin himself was mixed. He disliked what he saw as a narrow orthodoxy and obdurance to the facts in Stalin. However, he did give him some praise saying in an article in the left-leaning New Statesman magazine, "I have never met a man more fair, candid, and honest" and making it clear that he felt the "sinister" image of Stalin was unfair or simply false. Nevertheless he judged Stalin's rule to be far too rigid, restrictive of independent thought, and blinkered to lead toward the Cosmopolis he hoped for.[35] In the course of his visit to the Soviet Union in 1934, he debated the merits of reformist socialism over Marxism-Leninism with Stalin.[36]


Wells believed in the theory of eugenics. In 1904 he discussed a survey paper by Francis Galton, co-founder of eugenics, saying "I believe ... It is in the sterilisation of failure, and not in the selection of successes for breeding, that the possibility of an improvement of the human stock lies". Some contemporary supporters even suggested connections between the "degenerate" man-creatures portrayed in The Time Machine and Wells's eugenic beliefs. For example, the economist Irving Fisher said in a 1912 address to the Eugenics Research Association: "The Nordic race will ... vanish or lose its dominance if, in fact, the whole human race does not sink so low as to become the prey, as H. G. Wells images, of some less degenerate animal!"[37]


Wells had given some moderate, unenthusiastic support for Territorialism before the First World War, but later became a bitter opponent of the Zionist movement in general. He saw Zionism as an exclusive and separatist movement which challenged the collective solidarity he advocated in his vision of a world state. No supporter of Jewish identity in general, Wells had in his utopian writings predicted the ultimate assimilation of Jewry.[38][39][40]

Other endeavours

Wells brought his interest in Art & Design and politics together when he and other notables signed a memorandum to the Permanent Secretaries of the Board of Trade, among others. The November 1914 memorandum expressed the signatories concerns about British industrial design in the face of foreign competition. The suggestions were accepted, leading to the foundation of the Design and Industries Association.[41]

In the end his contemporary political impact was limited. His efforts regarding the League of Nations became a disappointment as the organisation turned out to be a weak one unable to prevent World War II. The war itself increased the pessimistic side of his nature. In his last book Mind at the End of its Tether (1945) he considered the idea that humanity being replaced by another species might not be a bad idea. He also came to call the era "The Age of Frustration".


Wells wrote in his book God the Invisible King that his idea of God did not draw upon the traditional religions of the world: "This book sets out as forcibly and exactly as possible the religious belief of the writer. [Which] is a profound belief in a personal and intimate God".[42] Later in the work he aligns himself with a "renascent or modern religion ... neither atheist nor Buddhist nor Mohammedan nor Christian ... [that] he has found growing up in himself".[43]

Of Christianity he has this to say: "... it is not now true for me ... Every believing Christian is, I am sure, my spiritual brother ... but if systemically I called myself a Christian I feel that to most men I should imply too much and so tell a lie." Of other world religions he writes: "All these religions are true for me as Canterbury Cathedral is a true thing and as a Swiss chalet is a true thing. There they are, and they have served a purpose, they have worked. Only they are not true for me to live in them ... They do not work for me."[44]

Final years

A mural devoted to Wells in his home town of Bromley. Painted in 1986, it was removed in the early 21st century.

He spent his final years venting his frustration[citation needed] at various targets which included a neighbour who erected a large sign to a servicemen's club, and being hostile towards the Catholic Church.[45] Wells's literary reputation declined as he spent his later years promoting causes that were rejected by most of his contemporaries. G. K. Chesterton quipped: "Mr. Wells is a born storyteller who has sold his birthright for a pot of message."[46]

Wells was a diabetic,[47] and a co-founder in 1934 of what is now Diabetes UK, the leading charity for people living with diabetes in the UK.

On 28 October 1940 Wells was interviewed by Orson Welles, who two years previous had performed an infamous radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds, on KTSA radio in San Antonio, Texas. In the interview, Wells admitted his surprise at the widespread panic that resulted from the broadcast, but acknowledged his debt to Welles for increasing sales of one of his "more obscure" titles.[48]

He died of unspecified causes on 13 August 1946 at his home at 13 Hanover Terrace, Regent's Park, London, aged 79.[49] Some reports indicate the cause of death was diabetes or liver cancer.[50] In his preface to the 1941 edition of The War in the Air, Wells had stated that his epitaph should be: "I told you so. You damned fools."[51] He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium on 16 August 1946 and his ashes were scattered at sea.[52] A commemorative blue plaque in his honour was installed at his home in Regent's Park.

In popular fiction

H. G. Wells has been portrayed in a number of novels, films, and games, including:

  • The novel The Time Ships, by British author Stephen Baxter, was designated by the Wells estate as an authorised sequel to The Time Machine, marking the centenary of its publication, and features characters, situations and technobabble from several of Wells's stories, as well as a representation of Wells (unnamed, and referred to as 'my friend, the Author').
  • Christopher Priest's novel The Space Machine thematically references both The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds.
  • The first volume of the graphic series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill features cavorite, the fictional substance from Well's The First Men in the Moon. In addition the second volume includes Wells's character Doctor Moreau.
  • In the film adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman (film) the character of an Invisible thief is inspired by H.G Well's novel The Invisible Man. The character namely Rodney Skinner was specially created, due to copyright issues regarding H.G. Wells's original novel. In his comic book "League" incarnation, Skinner is a thief who stole the invisibility formula from (we are led to assume) the original novel's anti-hero Griffin
  • In C. S. Lewis's novel That Hideous Strength, the character Jules is a caricature of Wells,[53] and much of Lewis's science fiction was written both under the influence of Wells and as an antithesis to his work (or, as he put it, an "exorcism"[54] of the influence it had on him). The devoutly Christian Lewis was especially incensed at Wells's The Shape of Things to Come where a future world government systematically persecutes and completely obliterates Christianity (and all other religions), which the book presents as a positive and vitally necessary act. (Lewis had, however, kind words to say for Wells as an author; in a note at the beginning of Out of the Silent Planet, he writes, "Certain slighting references to earlier stories of this type which will be found in the following pages have been put there for purely dramatic purposes. The author would be sorry if any reader supposed he was too stupid to have enjoyed Mr. H. G. Wells's fantasies or too ungrateful to acknowledge his debt to them.")
  • Wells's photo appears on a stairway wall of time traveller Alex Hartdegen's New York brownstone, in a 2002 version of The Time Machine, directed by Wells's great-grandson Simon Wells. The 1960 movie version has a plate on the Time Machine telling that it had been manufactured by "H. George Wells" (a.k.a. George, the protagonist of the film).
  • Arthur Sammler, the main character of Saul Bellow's Mr. Sammler's Planet, knew Wells, and is urged by other characters to use that fact as the basis for writing a biography of Wells, a project about which Holocaust survivor and self-made philosopher Sammler has decidedly mixed feelings.
  • Wells appears as the protagonist in the 1979 film Time After Time, and in the novel The Martian War by Kevin J. Anderson (as "Gabriel Mesta"). Both works use the conceit that Wells's works were based upon actual adventures he had. In the film Time After Time, he meets and falls in love with a woman named Amy Robbins (the name of his real-life second wife).
  • In an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, titled "Tempus Fugitive", a time-travelling H. G. Wells (Terry Kiser) seeks out Superman's help to stop a criminal from the future whom Wells had accidentally unleashed on the present. The concept of Wells's time machine being stolen and used for evil closely resembles the plot of Time After Time. Both H. G. Wells and the criminal Tempus (Lane Davies) returned for three later episodes.
  • In an adventure in the BBC's Doctor Who, the two-part, 90-minute "Timelash", the time-travelling Doctor (Colin Baker) encounters an excitable young man, Herbert, in the Scottish Highlands, taking him on an adventure that is revealed to have been inspirational when it is finally realised this is the pre-published Wells.
  • In Ben Bova's short story "Inspiration", the narrator gets Wells to meet a young Albert Einstein and Lord Kelvin. In the end of the story he (Wells) gave a tip to a 6-year-old Adolf Hitler.
  • The movie The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, ends with the main character, Flynn Carsen, getting a mission to retrieve H. G. Wells's Time Machine.
  • Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and staunch Republican, praised Wells in his book To Renew America, writing, "Our generation is still seeking its Jules Verne or H. G. Wells to dazzle our imaginations with hope and optimism."[55]
  • In the movie The Maltese Falcon Kasper Gutman recounts the history of the bird emphasising that "Those are facts, historical facts, not school book history, not Mr. Wells' history, but facts nevertheless."
  • In the science/historical fiction novel And Having Writ..., Wells is a major character.
  • Wells is a major character in John Kessel's award-winning short story "Buffalo", first printed in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, February, 1991.[56]
  • H. G. Wells makes an appearance in Chapter 10 of The Hollow Lands by Michael Moorcock. This being the second book in The Dancers at the End of Time series. The hero has gone back in time and needs help returning to the future.
  • Woody Allen's comedy film Sleeper (1973) is loosely based on Wells's novel, When the Sleeper Awakes.
  • The Infinite Worlds of H. G. Wells is a 4-hour dramatisation of the origin of several of Wells's stories. Originally made for TV, the series has been released on DVD.
  • In Libba Bray's novel The Sweet Far Thing, H. G. Wells makes an appearance in chapter twenty-four.
  • Ronald Wright's 1998 novel A Scientific Romance imagines that a Wells contemporary built a working time machine, which the protagonist uses to travel 500 years into the future, where he explores England which has become overgrown with jungle, and the few remaining people live in stone age conditions with peculiar remnants of civilisation.
  • The sci-fi television show Warehouse 13 prominently includes H. G. Wells as one of its Warehouse agents. Wells, acted by Jaime Murray, is portrayed as a female.



  1. ^ a b c Parrinder, Patrick (2004). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. 
  2. ^ Adam Charles Roberts (2000), "The History of Science Fiction": Page 48 in Science Fiction, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-19204-8.
  3. ^ a b Wells, H.G (2005) [First published 1905]. Gregory Claeys, Patrick Parrinder. ed. A Modern Utopia. Gregory Claeys, Francis Wheen, Andy Sawyer. Penguin Classics. ISBN 9780141441122. 
  4. ^ a b c Smith, David C. (1986) H.G. Wells: Desperately mortal. A biography. Yale University Press, New Haven and London ISBN 0-300-03672-8
  5. ^ a b c Wells, Geoffrey H. (1925). The Works of H. G. Wells. London: Routledge. p. xvi. ISBN 0860120961. OCLC 458934085. 
  6. ^ Batchelor, John (1985). H.G. Wells. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 2. ISBN 052127804X. 
  7. ^ Reeves, M.S. Round About a Pound a Week. New York: Garland Pub., 1980. ISBN 0824001192 Some of the text is available online.
  8. ^ "Hampstead: Education". A History of the County of Middlesex 9: 159–169. 1989. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=22657. Retrieved 9 June 2008. 
  9. ^ "A(lan) A(lexander) Milne (1882–1956)". Authors' Calendar. http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/aamilne.htm. Retrieved 13 April 2007. 
  10. ^ On the 143rd anniversary of Wells's birth Google published a riddle with this location on Google Maps as the solution, but the significance of the 143rd birthday—143 Maybury Road—was not explained: Schofield, Jack (21 September 2009). "HG Wells - Google reveals answer to teaser doodles". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2009/sep/21/google-hgwells-doodle-mystery. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  11. ^ Batchelor (1985: 165)
  12. ^ a b c ThinkQuest Library. H. G. Wells Biography.
  13. ^ University of Illinois News Bureau, December 2001. New biography on H. G. Wells focuses on late-life loves.
  14. ^ Pegasos – A Literature Related Resource Site. H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells (1866–1946).
  15. ^ http://news.illinois.edu/news/06/0531wells.html
  16. ^ Rinkel, Gene and Margaret. The Picshuas of H. G. Wells: A burlesque diary. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006. ISBN 0-252-03045-1 (cloth : acid-free paper).
  17. ^ World Transhumanist Association. Herbert George Wells.
  18. ^ Leeper, Evelyn C.. "Philcon 2003". fanac.org. http://fanac.org/Other_Cons/PhilCon/q03-rpt.html. Retrieved 22 February 2008. 
  19. ^ Williams, Donald. "The Birth of the Bomb: Leo Szilard". The Jung Page. http://www.cgjungpage.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=809&Itemid=40. Retrieved 22 February 2008. 
  20. ^ "The Outline of History – H. G. Wells". Cs.clemson.edu. 20 April 2003. http://www.cs.clemson.edu/~tdoyle/hgwells/outline_hist.shtml. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  21. ^ "Wells, H.G. 1922. A Short History of the World". Bartleby.com. http://www.bartleby.com/86/. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  22. ^ A Modern Utopia
  23. ^ Mackenzie, Norman and Jeanne (1973). The Time Traveller-The Life of H.G. Wells. London: Weidenfield and Nicolson. pp. 356–366. ISBN 0 297 76531 0. 
  24. ^ "9. The Last War Cyclone, 1940-50". The shape of things to come: the ultimate revolution (Penguin 2005 ed.). 1933. p. 208. ISBN 0-14-144104-6. 
  25. ^ Wagar, W. Warren (2004). H. G. Wells: traversing time. Middletown, Conn: Wesleyan University Press. p. 209. ISBN 0-8195-6725-6. 
  26. ^ Wells, Frank. H.G. Wells—A Pictorial Biography. London: Jupiter Books, 1977. Page 91.
  27. ^ The Miniatures Page. The World of Miniatures – An Overview.
  28. ^ Cole, Margaret (1974). "H. G. Wells and the Fabian Society". In Morris, A. J. Anthony. Edwardian radicalism, 1900-1914: some aspects of British radicalism. London: Routledge. pp. 97–114. ISBN 0-7100-7866-8. 
  29. ^ a b The Time Machine
  30. ^ Daily Herald, May 27, 1916
  31. ^ Wells, H. G. (1916). "The White Man's Burthen". What is coming? : a forecast of things after the war. London: Cassell. p. 240. ISBN 0554164698. OCLC 9446824. 
  32. ^ Wells, H. G. (1918). "The League must be representative". In the Fourth Year. London: Chatto and Windus. ISBN 1419125982. OCLC 458935146. "The president ... is chosen by a special college elected by the people .... Is there any reason why we should not adopt this method in this sending representatives to the Council of the League of Nations?" 
  33. ^ "The Necessary Powers of the League". In the Fourth Year. "[T]he League of Free Nations, if it is to be a reality ... must do no less than supersede Empire; it must end not only this new German imperialism, which is struggling so savagely and powerfully to possess the earth, but it must also wind up British imperialism and French imperialism, which do now so largely and inaggressively possess it." 
  34. ^ Experiment in Autobiography 556. Also chapter four of Future as Nightmare: H. G. Wells and the Anti-Utopians by Mark Robert Hillegas.
  35. ^ Experiment in Autobiography, p. 215, 687–689
  36. ^ Joseph Stalin and H. G. Wells, Marxism vs. Liberalism: An Interview
  37. ^ David M. Levy and Sandra J. Peart. "Eugenics Rides a Time Machine: H. G. Wells's outline of genocide". Reason Magazine. 26 March 2002
  38. ^ Cheyette, Bryan. Constructions of "the Jew" in English Literature and Society. Cambridge University Press, 1995. (Pages 143–148)
  39. ^ Hamerow, Theodore S. Why we watched: Europe, America, and the Holocaust. W. W. Norton & Company, 2008. (Pages 98–100, 219 )
  40. ^ "Desirable Aliens: British Men of Letters on The Jews". The Review of Reviews Vol. XXXIII Jan–June 1906. (Page 378)
  41. ^ Raymond Plummer, Nothing Need be Ugly Design & Industries Assn. (June 1985)
  42. ^ Wells, H. G. (1917). "Preface". God the Invisible King. London: Cassell. ISBN 0585006040. OCLC 261326125. 
  43. ^ Wells (1917: "The cosmology of modern religion")
  44. ^ Wells, H. G. (1908). First & last things; a confession of faith and rules of life. Putnam. pp. 77–80. OCLC 68958585. 
  45. ^ Parrinder, Patrick (2005). Parrinder, Patrick; Partington, John S. ed. The reception of H.G. Wells in Europe. London: Thoemmes Continuum. p. 11. ISBN 0826462537. 
  46. ^ Chesterton's reference is to the biblical "mess of pottage", implying that Wells had sold out his artistic birthright in mid-career: Rolfe, Christopher; Parrinder, Patrick (1990). H. G. Wells under revision: proceedings of the International H. G. Wells Symposium, London, July 1986. Selinsgrove, PA: Susquehanna University Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-945636-05-9. 
  47. ^ "H. G. Wells". For Your Diabetes Life. http://www.dlife.com/dLife/do/ShowContent/inspiration_expert_advice/famous_people/wells.html. Retrieved 12 February 2008. 
  48. ^ Flynn, John L.. "The legacy of Orson Welles and the Radio Broadcast". War of the Worlds: from Wells to Spielberg by. Owens Mills, MD: Galactic. p. 45. ISBN 9780976940005. 
  49. ^ "H. G. Wells Dies in London". St. Petersburg Times. 13 August 1946. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=QuMKAAAAIBAJ&sjid=2U4DAAAAIBAJ&pg=7192,1092447&dq=hg+wells. Retrieved 29 October 2008. 
  50. ^ "Calendar". Classics & Cheese. http://home.att.net/~cimmeria/calendar.html. Retrieved 12 February 2008. 
  51. ^ "Preface to the 1941 edition of The War in the Air". http://ghostwolf.dyndns.org/words/authors/W/WellsHerbertGeorge/prose/warintheair/warinairpref1941.html. Retrieved 11 February 2008. 
  52. ^ West, Anthony. H. G. Wells: Aspects of a Life, p.153. London: Hutchinson & Co, 1984. ISBN 0-09-134540-5).
  53. ^ Rolfe; Parrinder (1990: 226)
  54. ^ Lewis, C(live) S(taples). Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. New York & London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1955. p. 36.
  55. ^ Gingrich, Newt. To Renew America. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. p. 189.
  56. ^ Reprinted in The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology, ed. Gordon Van Gelder. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications (ISBN 978-1-892391-91-9), 2009.

Further reading

  • Dickson, Lovat. H.G. Wells: His Turbulent Life & Times. 1969.
  • Gilmour, David. The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002 (paperback, ISBN 0-374-18702-9); 2003 (paperback, ISBN 0-374-52896-9).
  • Gomme, A. W., Mr. Wells as Historian. Glasgow: MacLehose, Jackson, and Co., 1921.
  • Gosling, John. Waging the War of the Worlds. Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland, 2009 (paperback, ISBN 0786441054).
  • Mauthner, Martin. German Writers in French Exile, 1933–1940, London: Vallentine and Mitchell, 2007, ISBN 9780853035404.
  • West, Anthony. H. G. Wells: Aspects of a Life. London: Hutchinson, 1984.

External links


Sources—letters, essays and interviews


Critical essays

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