Wells, H(erbert) G(eorge)

Wells, H(erbert) G(eorge)

biographical name

(born Sept. 21, 1866, Bromley, Kent, Eng.—died Aug. 13, 1946, London) English novelist, journalist, sociologist, and historian. While studying science under T.H. Huxley in London, Wells formulated a romantic conception of the subject that would inspire the inventive and influential science-fiction and fantasy novels for which he is best known, including the epochal The Time Machine (1895), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898). He simultaneously took on a public role as an agitator for progressive causes, including the League of Nations. He later abandoned science fiction and drew on memories of his lower-middle-class early life in works including the novel Tono-Bungay (1908) and the comic The History of Mr. Polly (1910). He had a 10-year affair with the young Rebecca West. World War I shook his faith in human progress, prompting him to promote popular education through nonfiction works including The Outline of History (1920). The Shape of Things to Come (1933) was an antifascist warning. Though a sense of humour reappears in Experiment in Autobiography (1934), most of his late works reveal a pessimistic, even bitter outlook.

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