The Life Of Science Fiction Pioneer, H. G. Wells Essay, Research Paper
H. G. Wells
Time machines and Martians are common themes for literature and entertainment today. They belong to the science fiction genre of writing, but where did they originate? There was a time when these ideas were never even heard of, then H. G. Wells began writing. Herbert George Wells is best known as a pioneer of the modern science fiction novel.
Wells was born in Bromely Kent, England on September 21, 1866. (Rollyson, 2071) His parents were Joseph and Sarah Wells. His father was a storekeeper and professional cricketeer while his mother was a housekeeper. They had trouble supporting the family. In 1880 Mrs. Wells took post as a housekeeper of Fetherstonhough in Up Park, Sussex. (Rollyson, 2071) This gave Wells a lower-middles class upbringing. His childhood would be reflected in his novels, in the sense of the class division.
Wells parents found a job for him when he was fourteen. He was an apprentice for a draper in Windsor. (Rollyson, 2071) At the age of sixteen he received his break. He was offered a job as a student assistant at the Midhurst Grammar School in Sussex. (Draper, 298)
This opened the doors for his education. He obtained a scholarship from the Normal School of Science through this position. He attended the school from 1884 to 1889. (Bliss, 432) He studied under Darwin s champion T. H. Huxley. (Draper, 298)
He continued his schooling and would raise himself from the lower middle class. In 1889 he received a Bachelor of Science Degree, graduating with honors. (Bliss, 432) After this he taught at private schools in Whales and London. (Draper, 298) He was suffering from lung hemorrhages and a damaged kidney. This made it impossible for him to teach anymore. So in 1893 ha quit teaching and went to further his career with writing.
In 1891 Wells married his cousin Isabel Wells. They lived in Wandsworth, London until 1893 when Wells quit teaching. Wells then moved to Euston London with a former student Catherine Robbins. (Draper, 298) He divorced Isabel in 1895 and married Catherine two years later in 1897. (Magill Cyc, 1137) They had two children George Philip and Frank Richard. (Bliss, 432) Wells said, If the world does not please you, you can change it, and that s what he did (Draper, 298)
Wells works ranged from textbooks to science fiction and romance novels. This can probably be attributed to the type of person he was. His lower-middle class origin gave him the ability to contrast classes in his novels. While his adventurous love life added the aspect of romance in his work. Of all things ha was considered a science forecaster. (Draper, 297) This came from his schooling in science. Wells is an author whose achievement is as impossible to ignore as it is difficult to fit into readily assessed categories. (Draper, 297) This can be attributed to his characteristics as a person.
Wells even had a political side, technically he was a liberal democrat. (Bliss, 432) He thought himself to be closer to Plato s republic, though. In 1903 he joined the Fabien Society, a socialist group. (Magill Cyc, 1137) He even ran for office, but these attempts failed him.
Wells wrote an array of papers and novels. He wrote two textbooks in the 1893, this marked the beginning of his career. Throughout his life he published papers and essays in magazines. He wrote novels in many categories. Wells wrote realistic novels reflecting his upbringing and aspects of his life. He used a romance element in many of his works, which stemmed from his promiscuous behavior. Wells even wrote novels on his political views. Of all he wrote the science fiction novels get him the most credit. The rest of his works are rarely remembered.
The influence of Well s science-fiction virtually inescapable for writers who specialize in the genre extends to such distinguished authors as Yeugeny Zamyatin, George Orwell, Jorge Luis Borges, and William golding. (Draper, 296) The Time Machine is the first of Well s science-fiction novels, it was written in 1891. (Draper, 299) This book is the accounts of an inventor who traveled into the distant future. He found that nineteenth century progress is sending us toward an absence of challenge and initiative. This developed us into puny-unintelligent creatures called Eloi. They are the descendants of the ruling class of today. The descendants of the working class, the Morlocks, now feed upon the Eloi. The time traveler meats up with a young female Eloi, Weena, and they have various adventures and they are abruptly ended with her death. The time traveler goes farther into the future until all human life has been annihilated. Upon his return none of his friends believe what he has told. So he goes further in time and never returns. (Draper, 299)
This book brings up many things. First it is the beginning of an idea, the time machine. This is the origin of modern-day time-travel stories and things of the nature. Also Wells views on the separation of upper and lower classes is shown in the work. This with the Eloi being the ruling class being taken over by the Morlocks, the working class. Maybe he was telling of his thought on the subject the upper class abusing their power. Finally Wells adds romance in the novel with Weena and the time traveler. This is how Well s became known as a dynamic writer. Critics now regard The Time Machine as well s most flawless and quintessential work. (Draper, 299) After its publication in1895 it sold 6,000 copies in five months. In 1960 George Pal and MGM studios filmed it. (Draper, 300)
Wells second science-fiction classic, The Island of Doctor Moreau, is not received as well as The Time Machine. At the time the people were too reserved for the horror of the novel. This novel was published in 1896. (Draper, 300)
The novel describes the adventures of Edward Pedrick, a former student of T. H. Huxley. A tropical storm finds him on an island owned by Moreau. Moreau is working on experiments to turn beasts into people by surgery. The doctor is misguided about natural evolution. His doctrines challenge the Christian version of creation. His beast people worship him as to preserve their human quality. Eventually Moreau is killed by the beast people. Pedrick escapes only to find that he can no longer distinguish between the human beings he finds and Moreau s travesties. This novel’s idea has brought about genetic engineering and thing of that nature.
This novel is now regarded as one of well s finest works. It never achieved the fame of Wells other science-fiction novels. (Draper, 300) It 3was made into a movie in 1997. Once again Wells pioneered a subject in science and the fiction of it.
This Invisible Man, written in 1897, brings together comedy and science fiction. (Draper, 301) An outcast scientist, who has made himself invisible, disturbs a quiet village. After being deserted by his assistant, Marvel, he is shot. He then finds himself in the house of Doctor Kemp. He then reveals himself as a former colleague. He plans to terrorize the nation, but Kemp betrays him and the invisible man is finally killed. It is less complex and more melodramatic than his earlier science fiction work. (Draper, 301) It has remained a favorite for readers since its publication. In 1933 it was made into a movie, again by George Pal. Spin-offs of this idea have spawned many novels and movies. It is another original idea of Wells .
Wells wrote his best known piece in 1898, The War of The Worlds. (Draper, 301) It is the history of a Martian invasion of southern England. The action in London is developed with great attention to detail. Embedded in the events is the sustained assault on human self-regard. Wells repeatedly compares the Martians brutal treatment of their victims to man s treatment of animals and inferior raves. (Draper, 301) The over-developed brains lack of emotions and artificial bodies of the Martians compare the man and suggest his evolutionary destiny. (Draper, 302) After annihilating the human race with ease the Martians are killed by bacteria for which they have no resistance. It is considered Wells most imaginative and creative works. (Draper, 302)
This novel also spawned many movies and book ideas. Works are created that mirror the book with only the place and time as a difference. This work was the end of Wells science fiction phase. (Draper, 302)
Well s received his doctorate of Science in 1943 from the University of London. (Magill Cyc, 1138) He went on in his career and ended with experiments in biography and autobiography. Wells died in London, England on August 13, 1946. (Rollyson, 2071) He was cremated and his ashes were scattered over the English Channel. (Bliss, 432)
Wells attributes to the science fiction genre are astronomical. He was an important pioneer and has received the credit he deserves for his work. He has been described as the most serious of the popular writers and the most popular of the serious writers. (Draper, 297) His works will also be referenced at the beginning of the science fiction genre.
Bliss, Reginald. H. G. Wells Contemporary Authors. Vol. 121. Hal May, ed. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1987. Pages 432 to 445.
Draper, Micheal. H. G. Wells Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 34. Thomas Stanley, ed. Chicago: Edward Brothers Inc., 1985. Pages 292 to 315.
Drubble, Margaret, ed. Wells, Herbert George The Oxford Companion to English
Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985. Pages 1055 to 1056.
Magill, Frank N., ed. H. G. Wells Cyclopedia of World Authors. New York: Harper And Row, Publishers, 1958. Pages 1136 to 1139.
Rollyson, Carl. H. G. Wells Magill s Survey of World Literature. Vol. 6. Magill, Frank N., ed. New York: Marshall Cavendish Corp., 1993. Pages 2071 to 2081.