H.G. Wells

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Herbert George Wells (1866-1946) was a British novelist and author of works on politics, history society and science. His first major novel was The Time Machine (1895), followed by other works of science fiction including The Island of Dr Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), When the Sleeper Wakes (1899), The First Men in the Moon (1901) and The War in the Air (1908). In addition to being a pioneer of science fiction, Wells wrote novels of contemporary British life, many of which drew heavily on his own background as a youth of the impoverished lower-middle class. These novels include Love and Mr Lewisham (1900), Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul (1905), Tono-Bungay (1909), Ann Veronica (1909), The History of Mr Polly (1910), and Mr Britling Sees It Through (1916).

A Modern Utopia (1905) was Wells' semi-fictional account of an ideal society, incorporating much criticism of the society and politics of his own time. This work included predictions concerning the future of mankind if current racist and nationalist attitudes prevailed. Several of his predictions were to come true in two world wars.

He was also a prolific writer of non-fiction. During his early career as a science teacher, he published a Text-Book of Biology (1893). During and after the First World War he wrote prolifically as a journalist on current affairs, particularly the topics of war and peace, and in 1919 he campaigned for the establishment of a League of Nations. In 1940 he took an active part in drawing up the declaration of human rights. His non-fiction included The Outline of History (1920), The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind (1931) and World Brain (1935). Seventy years before Citizendium, Wells's World Brain advocated a 'world encyclopaedia', which would link together libraries and information services throughout the world into one integrated system covering all fields of knowledge.

Wells was a lifelong socialist. In 1903 he became a member of the Fabian Society, but was critical of its leadership, since he wanted the society to be more active in publicising the socialist cause and recruiting new members. He resigned in 1908. The stained-glass "Fabian Window", now at the London School of Economics, shows the leading members of the society ostensibly forging a new world, while H.G.Wells is depicted at the corner of the scene, thumbing his nose at them. In 1922 and in 1923 Wells stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate for parliament.

Wells's private life and his unconventional attitudes concerning sexual freedom caused considerable scandal. During his second marriage, to Amy Robbins (known as 'Jane') he had several well-known affairs and fathered two illegitimate children; a daughter (born in 1909) whose mother was Amber Reeves and a son (born in 1914) whose mother was Rebecca West. Despite Wells's many infidelities, Amy remained married to him until her death in 1927. Wells died in London in 1946, aged 79.