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H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells H. G. Wells[2†]

Herbert George Wells, more commonly known as H. G. Wells, was born on September 21, 1866, in Bromley, Kent, England, and died on August 13, 1946, in London[1†][2†]. He was an English novelist, journalist, sociologist, and historian, best known for his work in the science fiction genre[1†][2†]. Wells was a prolific writer, having written more than fifty novels and dozens of short stories[1†][2†]. His non-fiction output included works of social commentary, politics, history, popular science, satire, biography, and autobiography[1†][2†].

Wells’ science fiction novels are so well-regarded that he has been called the "father of science fiction"[1†][2†]. His works often imagined time travel, alien invasion, invisibility, and biological engineering before these subjects were common in the genre[1†][2†]. Some of his most notable works include “The Time Machine”, “The Invisible Man”, “The War of the Worlds”, and "The Island of Doctor Moreau"[1†][2†].

In addition to his fame as a writer, Wells was prominent in his lifetime as a forward-looking, even prophetic social critic who devoted his literary talents to the development of a progressive vision on a global scale[1†][2†]. As a futurist, he wrote a number of utopian works and foresaw the advent of aircraft, tanks, space travel, nuclear weapons, satellite television, and something resembling the World Wide Web[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Herbert George Wells, known as Bertie to his family, was born on September 21, 1866, in Bromley, England[1†][3†]. His parents, Joseph Wells and Sarah Neal, were domestic servants who later used a small inheritance to purchase a hardware store[1†][3†][4†]. The family lived in poverty for many years due to the store’s poor location and inferior merchandise[1†][3†][4†].

At the age of 7, Wells suffered an accident that left him bedridden[1†][3†][4†]. During this time, he became a voracious reader, consuming works from authors such as Charles Dickens, Washington Irving, and Voltaire[1†][3†][4†]. This early exposure to literature had a profound influence on his later career as a writer[1†][3†][4†].

When the family store finally went under, his mother went to work as a housekeeper at a large estate[1†][3†][4†]. It was there that Wells was able to further expand his literary horizons[1†][3†][4†].

At the age of 18, Wells won a scholarship to study biology at the Normal School of Science in London, England, where T.H. Huxley was one of his teachers[1†][3†][5†]. He graduated from London University in 1888[1†][3†][5†]. After graduating, Wells became a science teacher[1†][3†][5†]. His first book, a “Textbook of Biology,” was published in 1893[1†][3†].

In 1891, Wells married his cousin, Isabel Mary Wells, but the marriage was short-lived[1†][3†][5†].

Career Development and Achievements

H. G. Wells devoted more than 50 years of his life to writing[6†]. His first book, a “Textbook of Biology,” was published in 1893[6†][1†][6†]. He wrote more than fifty novels and dozens of short stories[6†][2†][1†][7†]. His non-fiction output included works of social commentary, politics, history, popular science, satire, biography, and autobiography[6†][2†][1†][7†].

Wells’ science fiction novels are so well-regarded that he has been called the "father of science fiction"[6†][2†][1†][7†]. His works often imagined time travel, alien invasion, invisibility, and biological engineering before these subjects were common in the genre[6†][2†][1†][7†]. Some of his most notable works include “The Time Machine”, “The Invisible Man”, “The War of the Worlds”, and "The Island of Doctor Moreau"[6†][2†][1†][7†].

In addition to his fame as a writer, Wells was prominent in his lifetime as a forward-looking, even prophetic social critic who devoted his literary talents to the development of a progressive vision on a global scale[6†][2†][1†][7†]. As a futurist, he wrote a number of utopian works and foresaw the advent of aircraft, tanks, space travel, nuclear weapons, satellite television, and something resembling the World Wide Web[6†][2†][1†][7†].

His most notable science fiction works include “The Time Machine” (1895), which was his first novel, “The Island of Doctor Moreau” (1896), “The Invisible Man” (1897), “The War of the Worlds” (1898), the military science fiction “The War in the Air” (1907), and the dystopian “When the Sleeper Wakes” (1910)[6†][2†]. Novels of social realism such as “Kipps” (1905) and “The History of Mr Polly” (1910), which describe lower-middle-class English life, led to the suggestion that he was a worthy successor to Charles Dickens[6†][2†].

First Publication of His Main Works

H. G. Wells was a prolific writer, and his works spanned many genres. His science fiction novels, in particular, have had a significant impact on the genre[8†].

These works, among others, have cemented Wells’ reputation as a pioneer of science fiction[8†][1†][9†]. His ability to blend scientific concepts with imaginative storytelling has left a lasting legacy in the genre[8†][1†].

Analysis and Evaluation

H. G. Wells’ works have been critically evaluated for their innovative ideas, narrative force, and social commentary[10†][11†][12†][13†]. His first novel, “The Time Machine”, enjoyed instant popularity and rescued its author from obscurity and poverty[10†]. The novel was the first of Wells’ classic “scientific romances”, which, along with some of Jules Verne’s “extraordinary voyages”, provided the foundation of the modern genre of science fiction[10†].

Wells was less concerned with the accuracy of his science than with the consequences of it[10†][13†]. He extrapolated to a horrific extreme the division of English society into a leisured aristocracy and a mass of downtrodden workers[10†]. This is evident in “The Time Machine”, where the lovely but effete Eloi have degenerated to the point where they have become the prey of the monstrous Morlocks[10†].

In “The War of the Worlds”, Wells challenged the complacency of the English regarding their secure and commonsense life[10†][12†]. His science-fiction novels heralded a century of unprecedented destruction, the displacement of whole human populations, and the use of technology as a tool of dehumanization[10†][12†].

Wells’ vision of the future was not an attempt at prophecy, but rather a warning[10†]. His works seem rather old-fashioned to modern readers to some extent because of the novel’s own success, both as a literary landmark and as an example of how to imagine the future[10†].

Personal Life

H. G. Wells was married twice in his life. His first marriage was to his cousin, Isabel Mary Smith, in 1891[14†]. However, the marriage was not successful, and they divorced three years later[14†]. In 1895, Wells married his former student, Amy Catherine Robbins, whom he affectionately called Jane[14†]. Together, they had two children[14†].

Wells was known for his free-thinking and modernist views, which were reflected in his personal life as well[14†][15†]. He engaged in numerous affairs with prominent feminists, writers, and activists throughout his life[14†][15†]. One of his most notable relationships was with Moura Budberg, who was rumored to have been a Ukrainian spy[14†][15†].

Despite his eventful personal life, Wells remained a prolific writer and continued to contribute significantly to the field of literature[14†][15†]. His personal experiences and relationships often influenced his work, adding depth and realism to his stories[14†][2†][1†].

Conclusion and Legacy

H. G. Wells’ legacy is monumental and enduring[16†][17†]. His imaginative storytelling and prophetic visions of the future have inspired countless authors, filmmakers, and thinkers[16†]. His works continue to be adapted into films, television series, and other media, attesting to their enduring relevance[16†].

Wells’ influence was enormous, both on his own generation and on that which immediately followed it[16†][18†]. None of his contemporaries did more to encourage revolt against Christian tenets and accepted codes of behavior, especially as regards sex[16†][18†]. Though in many ways hasty, ill-tempered, and contradictory, Wells was undeviating and fearless in his efforts for social equality, world peace, and what he considered to be the future good of humanity[16†][18†].

His legacy can be found in the realms of dystopian fiction, space exploration narratives, and thought-provoking social commentaries, all of which owe a debt to his pioneering vision[16†][17†]. Beyond literature, H. G. Wells’ science fiction has also had a significant impact on the world of filmmaking[16†][17†].

In spite of an awareness of possible world catastrophe that underlay much of his earlier work and flared up again in old age, Wells in his lifetime was regarded as the chief literary spokesman of the liberal optimism that preceded World War I[16†][18†]. No other writer has caught so vividly the energy of this period, its adventurousness, its feeling of release from the conventions of Victorian thought and propriety[16†][18†].

As a creative writer, his reputation rests on the early science fiction books and on the comic novels[16†][18†]. His best work has a vigor, vitality, and exuberance unsurpassed, in its way, by that of any other British writer of the early 20th century[16†][18†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - H.G. Wells: British author [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - H. G. Wells [website] - link
  3. ThoughtCo - The Life and Work of H.G. Wells [website] - link
  4. Victorian Era - H G Wells: The pioneering science fiction writer [website] - link
  5. Britannica Kids - H.G. Wells [website] - link
  6. The Famous People - H. G. Wells Biography [website] - link
  7. History Hit - ‘The Father of Science Fiction’: 10 Facts About H. G. Wells [website] - link
  8. Wikipedia (English) - H. G. Wells bibliography [website] - link
  9. nocloo.com - Golden Age Illustrations Gallery - H. G. Wells– First Edition Books: Identification Guide [website] - link
  10. eNotes - The Time Machine Critical Evaluation [website] - link
  11. LitCharts - The Time Machine Study Guide [website] - link
  12. eNotes - The War of the Worlds Critical Evaluation [website] - link
  13. eNotes - The Invisible Man: A Grotesque Romance Critical Essays [website] - link
  14. Mental Floss - 11 Fascinating Facts About H.G. Wells [website] - link
  15. OUPblog - The life and work of H.G. Wells: a timeline [website] - link
  16. Observervoice - Celebrating Life and Legacy of H.G. Wells [website] - link
  17. SCI-FI Blog - The Enduring Impact of H. G. Wells' Science Fiction: Inspiring Generations of Creators [website] - link
  18. Britannica - H.G. Wells - Sci-Fi Pioneer, Novelist, Social Critic [website] - link
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