How HG Wells Predicted the 20th Century


Time and time again in his youth he was faced with the wrong career options for his multiple talents, originality, imagination and critical intelligence – for example, as an assistant chemist and a trial apprenticeship at Hyde’s Drapery. Emporium which became “the most miserable and desperate period of his entire life. Yet some of his early work, such as that of a student teacher, served him well, giving him the chance to train in the fields of anatomy, mathematics, chemistry, in particular biology, geometry, then to win a scholarship for the Normal School of Sciences. There, his talent for debate and writing, his natural charm and his sense of humor flourish.

At the École normale des sciences, we see him “always ready to set off on new paths”, in the words of Tomalin. “Taking too much was how Wells lived his life.” He lectured at the college’s Debating Society, one being “The Past and Future of the Human Race,” which foreshadowed with a decade his vision for things to come in “The Time Machine,” a work originally published in the first issue of New Critique by his friend William Henley, best known for his poem “Invictus”.

Tomalin, who has written biographies of Charles Dickens, Samuel Pepys and other writers, discovered that she couldn’t just deliver young Wells and confesses that “I found him too interesting to go.” So, Wells’ entire life emerges here as she takes us intently through three important and overlaid profiles of one of the most widely read, widely read and cited English literary artists. One profile is that of Wells as a determined social activist, as he put it, “to write, speak and preach the revolution”. He was an atheist, socialist and author of dozens of books in which he frequently dreamed of a better social world; his political publications were as influential and popular as his groundbreaking science fiction stories, which he called “science novels.” We learn of his important but not entirely comfortable involvement with the visionary progressives of the Fabian Society. In his bestseller “Anticipations,” he told a friend, his intention was “to undermine and destroy the monarch, monogamy and respectability – and the British Empire, all under the guise of a speculation on cars and electric heating ”. It is no small achievement that his 1940 “Human Rights” has become “one of the sources of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights” proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly.

Wells actually destroyed the monogamy and respectability in his own life. Examining at length this unpleasant and sad dimension, Tomalin allows us to see that “he was a bad husband and an unreliable lover”, with the person he hurt the most being his second wife, Jane, who “s” is found abandoned for longer and longer periods. as the years passed, as he pursued his loves in the flames of publicity.

So it was the last profile in this biography of Wells as a prolific and original storyteller that bewitched me as a young reader and, as a writer, cemented my respect for him. Although he was often ill and self-taught, his early literary works were prodigious. Prior to his success with “The Time Machine,” he took work copying diagrams for slides sold to medical students, tutored students, designed quiz questions for inexpensive magazines, and wrote two popular science textbooks, one of which he illustrated, but to him they were hacking work. . He edited a newspaper and every week produced book reviews, tried his hand at drama without success, sold light plays to the Pall Mall Gazette, which to his surprise brought him in more money than he did. ‘he did not receive it while teaching. All of this is just the tip of the iceberg of his voluminous literary effusions.


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