happy birthday H G Wells

Herbert George Wells, the son of an unsuccessful tradesman, was born in Bromley on 21st September, 1866. After a basic education at a local school, Wells was apprenticed as a draper. He disliked the work and in 1883 became a pupil-teacher at Midhurst Grammar School. At Midhurst won a scholarship to the School of Science where he was taught biology by T. H. Huxley. Wells found Huxley an inspiring teacher and as a result developed a strong interest in evolution. He founded and edited the Science Schools Journal while at university. But was disappointing with the teaching he received in the second year and so in 1887 he left without obtaining a degree.

Wells spent the next few years teaching and writing and in 1891 his major essay on science, The Rediscovery of the Unique, was published in The Fortnightly Review. In 1895 Wells established himself as a novelist in 1895 with his science fiction story, The Time Machine. This was followed by two more successful novels, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896) and The War of the Worlds (1898).

Wells was an outspoken socialist and a pacifist, and his later works became increasingly political and didactic. His middle period novels (1900-1920) were more realistic; they covered lower middle class life (The History of Mr Polly) and the 'New Woman' and the Suffragettes (Ann Veronica). He was a prolific writer in many genres, including contemporary novels, history, and social commentary.

Wells's first non-fiction bestseller was Anticipations (1901). When originally serialized 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").

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.
H. G. Wells is one of those rare personalities we are gifted with, so much given and so much to learn of…