Biography of H.G. Wells

Photo of H G Wells

H.G. Wells was a twentieth century author principally of science fiction.

When and Where was he Born?

21st September 1866, Bromley, Kent, England.

Family Background:

Herbert George Wells was the son of Joseph Wells, an unsuccessful tradesman who had originally been a gardener at Uppark House near Petersfield in West Sussex. His mother became the Housekeeper at Uppark from 1880 to 1892 although she had resigned once before as a Lady’s Maid (Sarah Neal) to marry Joseph. Herbert lived at the house and was grateful to use the well stocked library. See National Trust site for more details.

Education:

Local schools. Apprenticed to a draper.

Timeline of H.G. Wells:

1883: Wells disliked being a draper and becomes a pupil-teacher at Midhurst Grammar School. He wins a scholarship to the Normal School of Science, South Kensington, London, where his biology teacher was T. E. Huxley. As a consequence he becomes interested in evolution. He founds and edits the “Science Scholar Magazine.”

1887: He leaves the school without graduating. He spends the next few years teaching and writing.

1890: He passes his BSc examinations.

1891: He marries his cousin Isabel Wells.

1894: The couple separate.

1895: H.G. Wells finally establishes himself as a novelist with the publication of “The Time Machine”. He marries Amy Katherine (Jane) Robbins.

1896: “The Island of Doctor Moreau” is published for the first time.

1897: Wells gains a reputation as a science fiction writer in the United States and writes for the magazine “Cosmopolitan”.

1898: “The War of the Worlds” is published.

1900: He writes “The First Man in the Moon” for “Cosmopolitan”.

1901: He begins to write works about politics, technology and the future in a non-fiction form.

1902: He publishes “The Discovery of the Future” which impresses members of the Fabian Society such as George Bernard Shaw and Wells himself became a member. Wells felt that it should not just be a debating society but should be a pressure group fighting for social change. Although many other members resisted him he becomes a member of the Fabian Society’s Executive Committee and tries to change the group.

1908: He is forced to resign from the Fabian Society but continues being active within Socialism.

1912: Wells goes to live with the novelist Rebecca West.

1914: Although he was horrified by the outbreak of the First World War he supported Britain’s involvement, unlike many of his other socialist colleagues.

1917: Wells is impressed by the Revolution in Russia.

1920: By now he had actually visited Russia himself and become disillusioned and publishes “The Outlines of History” which holds that mankind could only survive by education rather than by revolution.

1922: “The Outlines” is published in an abridged format as “A Short History of the World” and Wells becomes a famous and well-read political writer throughout the rest of the 1920’s and 1930’s. He contributes widely to the newspapers and magazines of the day.

1933: The novel “The Shape of Things to Come” is published in which he describes a world that had been devastated but which is being rebuilt along humanist lines. Many socialists dismissed his work of this period as elitist.

1934: Wells visits the Soviet Union and the United States.

1939: As a longtime supporter of the League of Nations after the First World War Wells is appalled by the beginning of the Second World War.

1946: He was still writing about the appalling effects of the Atomic Bomb when he died.

When and Where did he Die?

13th August 1946, London, England.

Age at Death:

80.

Written Works:

1895: “The Time Machine”.
1896: “The Island of Doctor Moreau”. “The Wheels of Chance”.
1897: “The Invisible Man”. “The Plattner Story”.
1898: “The War of the Worlds”.
1899: “When the Sleeper Wakes”.
1900: “Love and Mr Lewisham”.
1901: “The First Men in the Moon”.
1904: “The Food of the Gods”.
1905: “Kipps”. “A Modern Utopia”.
1908: “The War in the Air”.
1910: “The History of Mr. Polly”.
1911: “The Country of the Blind”. “The New Machiavelli”.
1916: “Mr. Britling Sees it Through”.
1917: “God the Invisible King”.
1920: “The Outline of History”.
1923: “Men Like Gods”.
1926: “The World of William Clissold”.
1933: “The Shape of Things to Come”.
1934: “An Experiment in Autobiography”.
1945: “Mind at the End of its Tether”.

Marriages:

1. 1891 to his cousin Isabel Wells.
2. 1895 to Amy Katherine (Jane) Robbins.
3. 1912 Lives with but does not marry Rebecca West.

Site of Grave:

His funeral was held at Golder’s Green Crematorium and his ashes were subsequently scattered from an aircraft into the English Channel at Old Harry Rocks, near Swanage in Dorset..

Places of Interest:

LONDON:

The British Library

Further Information:

H G Wells Society, c/o JR Hammond, 49 Beching Thorpe Drive, Bottesford, Nottingham, NG13 0DN.