One of the most amply self-documented lives in the annals of English literature began on September 21, 1866, when to Sarah Neal Wells, a lady’s maid, and to Joseph Wells, an unsuccessful tradesman though accomplished cricketer, was born the last of three sons, Herbert George (Bertie) Wells. The infant first “squinted and bubbled at the universe” in a shabby bedroom over a china shop in Bromley, in a residence called Atlas House. Bertie Wells’s escape from the drab life of his two siblings was astonishing though brief. Her older sons safely apprenticed, Sarah Wells took thirteen-year-old Bertie with her to an estate called Uppark, where she hired on as a housekeeper in 1880. The change in outlook from shopkeeper’s window to below stairs in a manor house was lifesaving. It lasted a year, during which the boy encountered great books for the first time—the satires of Voltaire, the saga of Gulliver, the liberating air of Platonic realism’s Politeia (388-368 b.c.e.; Republic, 1701).
The young Wells’s education was fragmentary, alternating with dismal apprenticeships one after another. He escaped anonymity through an unlikely door. He began to pass examinations and to show unusual ability in science. At eighteen he won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science, London, to train to be a teacher. His zoology professor was Thomas H. Huxley, brilliant essayist, evolutionist, and public spokesperson...
(The entire section is 534 words.)
Herbert George Wells was born in 1866 at Bromley in Kent, England, to Joseph and Sarah Neal Wells. He attended a commercial academy from 1874 to 1880. Having run away from his apprenticeship in a drapery shop, he taught in a preparatory school. Then he attended the London Normal School of Science from 1884 to 1887, studying biology under T. H. Huxley. In 1891 he was married to Isabel Mary Wells, and he published “The Rediscovery of the Unique.” The Time Machine brought him fame in 1895, the same year that he divorced Isabel to marry Amy Catherine Robbins.
In 1901, Wells’s son George Philip was born; Frank Richard followed in 1903. In 1914, having visited Russia, Wells published a prophecy, The War That Will End War; that year his son Anthony West was born to Rebecca West. After visiting soldiers on the front lines of World War I, Wells supported a “League of Free Nations” and entered the propaganda effort against Germany. In 1920 he made another trip to Russia, to meet Vladimir Ilich Lenin, and published Russia in the Shadows.
Wells was defeated as a Labour candidate for Parliament in 1922, and Amy Catherine died in 1927. He coauthored a book on biology before visiting Russia and the United States in 1934 to meet Joseph Stalin and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1935 he wrote film scenarios for Things to Come and The Man Who Could Work Miracles. In 1938, Orson Welles’s radio broadcast of an adaptation of Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds frightened many people in the United States, paving the way for Wells’s successful lecture tour there in 1940. Wells died in London on August 13, 1946.
Herbert George Wells was born in Bromley, Kent, England, on September 21, 1866, the third son of Joseph and Sarah Neal Wells. In rather mean surroundings (Wells later called it “a suburb of the damnedest”), Sarah struggled to rear her son, returning to her employment as a lady’s maid after her unreliable husband (who was first a gardener and then a professional club cricketer) abandoned the family. Giving Wells the rudiments of an education—teaching him the alphabet and borrowing books from the public library—Sarah took employment with the Fetherstonhaugh family at Up Park, Sussex. These circumstances—growing up poor among the wealthy, observing at close hand the disparity between social classes, and striving to acquire...
(The entire section is 799 words.)
In his fiction and nonfiction, H. G. Wells dreamed of a future that would fundamentally change the conditions of the present. He was fascinated by the scientific and technological developments of his time; he explored politics and business, looking for the roots of self and society. He used his formidable intellect and imagination to lay bare the faults of his age, and he created characters who strove against but often succumbed to the temptations of the emerging capitalist and corporate culture. He often despaired that humanity would find a way to express its highest potential, yet his own prodigious output argued for the value of an inquiring mind, unfazed by obstacles and resolved on accomplishing a revolution in the consciousness of one’s contemporaries.
Herbert George Wells, whose parents ran a china shop, was one of England’s most prolific and best-known writers. Although he had to work for a living early in life, he was determined to get an education and rise in the world. After a period as a draper’s apprentice and a chemist’s assistant, he attended Midhurst Middleschool, where he was a teacher and a student. In 1884 he won a scholarship at the Royal College of Science, studying under the biologist and advocate of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, Thomas Henry Huxley, an experience that made a lasting impression on him. Two years later he founded the Science Schools Journal, combining his interests in teaching and science writing. In 1890 he earned a...
(The entire section is 934 words.)