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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 (fourth child) of Joseph Wells, an unsuccessful tradesman who had originally been a gardener at Uppark House near Petersfield in West Sussex. His mother Sarah Neal became the Housekeeper at Uppark from 1880 to 1892 although she had resigned once before as a Lady’s Maid to marry Joseph. Herbert lived at the house and was grateful to use the well stocked library. See National Trust site for more details. An inheritance allowed them to buy a china shop but it was never very prosperous.

Education:

Thomas Morley’s Commercial Academy. (private school). Apprenticed to a draper.

Timeline of H.G. Wells:

1874: Wells had an accident, breaking his leg which made him have to stay in his bed for several weeks. It was at this point he began to read voraciously.

1880: He leaves school.

1881: He becomes an apprentice at the Southsea Drapery Emporium.

1883: Wells disliked being a draper and becomes an pupil-teacher at Midhurst Grammar School in West Sussex. 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.” He also took an interest in contemporary society and attended free lectures at Kelmscott House, the home of William Morris.

1887: He leaves the school without graduating due to his lack of interest in geology. 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 when Isabel finds out he is having an affair with one of his students, Amy Catherine Robbins.

1895: Wells finally establishes himself as a novelist with the publication of “The Time Machine”. He marries Amy 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. His first book to sell well is “Anticipations“. His son George Philip is born.

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.

1903: His son Frank Richard is born.

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

1909: He becomes the first President of the Royal College of Science Association. The Labour Party break with the Fabian Society due to lack of mass agitation and Wells goes with them.

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 Outline 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. He runs as a Labour Party candidate for London University and again the following year.

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 of diabetes.

Age at Death:

80.

Written Works:

1888: “The Chronic Argonauts”. (short story)
1895: “The Time Machine”. “The Wonderful Visit”. “The Argonauts of the Air”.
1896: “The Island of Doctor Moreau”. “The Wheels of Chance”. “Under the Knife”. “In The Abyss “.
1897: “The Invisible Man”. “The Plattner Story”. “The Crystal Egg “. “The Star “.
1898: “The War of the Worlds”. “Certain Personal Matters”. “The Man Who Could Work Miracles”.
1899: “When the Sleeper Wakes”. “Tales of Space and Time”. “A Story of the Days To Come”.
1900: “Love and Mr Lewisham”.
1901: “Anticipations”. “The First Men in the Moon”. “A Dream of Armageddon”. “The New Accelerator “. “Filmer”.
1902: “Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought”. “The Discovery of the Future”.
1903: “Mankind in the Making “. “The Truth About Pyecraft “.
1904: “The Food of the Gods”. “The Land Ironclads “.
1905: “Kipps”. “A Modern Utopia”. “The Empire of the Ants “.
1906: “In the Days of the Comet “. “The Future in America: A Search After Realities”. “The Future in America: A Search After Realities”. “Socialism and the Family”. “Reconstruction of the Fabian Society”.
1907: “This Misery of Boots “.
1908: “The War in the Air”. “New Worlds for Old”. “First and Last Things: A Confession of Faith and Rule of Life “.
1909: “The Valley of Spiders “. “Ann Veronica “. “Tono-Bungay “.
1910: “The History of Mr. Polly”.
1911: “The Country of the Blind”. “The New Machiavelli”. “The Late Mr Elvesham “. “The Door in the Wall”. “Floor Games “.
1912: “The Great State: Essays in Construction”. “The Labour Unrest “. “Marriage “.
1913: “War and Common Sense”. “Liberalism and Its Party: What Are the Liberals to Do?”. “The Passionate Friends”.
1914: “An Englishman Looks at the World: Being A Series of Unrestrained Remarks upon Contemporary Matters”. “The World Set Free: A Story of Mankind “. “The War That Will End War “.
1915: “The Peace of the World “. “Bealby: A Holiday”. “The Research Magnificent “.
1916: “Mr. Britling Sees it Through”. “What is Coming? A Forecast of Things After the War”.
1917: “God the Invisible King”. “War and the Future: Italy, France and Britain at War “. “The Soul of a Bishop”. “A Reasonable Man’s Peace”.
1918: “Joan and Peter: The Story of an Education”. “In the Fourth Year: Anticipations of a World Peace “.
1919: “The Undying Fire: A Contemporary Novel”. “The Idea of a League of Nations”. “The Way to a League of Nations “. “History is One “.
1920: “The Outline of History”. “Russia in the Shadows “.
1921: “The Salvaging of Civilization “. “The New Teaching of History. With a Reply to Some Criticisms of ‘The Outline of History”.
1922: “Washington and the Hope of Peace”. “The World, its Debts and the Rich Men “. “A Short History of the World”. “The Secret Places of the Heart “.
1923: “Men Like Gods”. “Socialism and the Scientific Motive”. “The Labour Ideal of Education “. “A Walk Along the Thames Embankment “.
1924: “The Story of a Great School Master “. “The Dream: A Novel”. “The P.R. Parliament “. “A Year of Prophesying “.
1925: “Christina Alberta’s Father “. “A Forecast of the World’s Affairs “.
1926: “The World of William Clissold”.
1927: “Democracy Under Revision”. “Playing at Peace “. “Meanwhile: The Picture of a Lady “. “The Stolen Body “.
1928: “The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints for a World Revolution “. “Mr. Blettsworthy on Rampole Island”.
1929: “The King Who Was A King: The Book of a Film”. “Common Sense of World Peace “. “Common Sense of World Peace”.
1930: “The Autocracy of Mr. Parham: His Remarkable Adventures in this Changing World”. “The Way to World Peace “.
1932: “The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind”.
1933: “The Shape of Things to Come”.
1934: “An Experiment in Autobiography”.
1935: “The Shape of Things to Come: The Ultimate Revolution “.
1936: “The Anatomy of Frustration: A Modern Synthesis”. “The Croquet Player”. “The Idea of a World Encyclopaedia “. “The Man Who Could Work Miracles: A Film”.
1937: “Star Begotten: A Biological Fantasia “. “The Camford Visitation”.
1938: “The Brothers”. “World Brain”. “Apropos of Dolores”.
1939: “The Holy Terror”.
1940: “The Rights of Man, Or What Are We Fighting For?”. “Babes in the Darkling Wood”. “The Common Sense of War and Peace: World Revolution of War Unending”. “All Aboard for Ararat”.
1941: “Guide to the New World: A Handbook of Constructive World Revolution”. “You Can’t Be Too Careful”.
1942: “Science and the World-Mind”. “Phoenix: A Summary of the Inescapable Conditions of World Reorganization”. “The Conquest of Time”.
1943: “Crux Ansata: An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church”. “The Mosley Outrage”.
1944: “’42 to ’44: A Contemporary Memoir upon Human Behaviour during the Crisis of the World Revolution”. “The Illusion of Personality”.
1945: “Mind at the End of its Tether”. “The Happy Turning: A Dream of Life”.

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.

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