H.G. Wells A Biography Essay, Research Paper
Herbert George Wells or H.G. as he liked to be called is man that stands out in English literature and English history. As far as literature is concerned Wells was a pioneer of his genre. He wrote science-fiction novels that would invoke his readers minds with people from other planets and of other dimensions. He brought to us invisible men and creepy creatures. He did this while inserting his own political ideologies. That is where the history comes into the picture. He influenced generation after generation with his ideologies of class and social structure. Many people say he was a socialist, however many other revoke the idea and claim that he was against many of the socialistic principles.
H.G. Wells was born in Bromley, Kent on September 21, 1866. His parents were from the lower middle class. His father was a failing shop-keep. His mother was a maid for a wealthy lady. Wells’ ideologies developed through his social class. He was dissatisfied with his social position and wanted to reform English society.
Wells’ life was full of events that would shape his life. In 1874 he broke his leg and was laid up for almost four and a half months. During this time he was introduced to his first books. He ready everyday for those for months. Wells developed his love for literature at the age of eight. Wells wrote in his Experiment in Autobiography, “Probably I am alive to-day and writing this autobiography instead of being a worn-out, dismissed and already dead shop assistant, because my leg was broken.”(Wells 53) After this Wells went to a local grade school, where because of his extensive reading was the brightest in his class. When he was fourteen he became a student and a teacher at Midhurst Grammar School. Wells was so studious that they gave him a scholarship to study at the National School of Science at South Kensington in England. Wells studied biology with Thomas Huxley, a renowned scientist of his time. Huxley influenced both his political and scientific views of the world. Wells quit school at South Kensington and went to London University where he received a degree for teaching science.
Wells finally settled down in 1891 when he and his cousin Isabel were married. The marriage did not last very long. His cousin did not satisfy his sexual or intellectual needs. He divorced her after a couple of years and married a former student of his. He was married to Amy Catherine Robbins, or Jane as he liked to call her, in 1895. Wells was married to Jane for the remainder of his life. He did however have many mistresses whom Jane did know about.
The same year Wells met Jane he published, The Time Machine. This book marked the beginning of a wonderful and prosperous writing career. The book itself was a reflection of the class system of English society of his day. Another book that was a success was, The War of the Worlds. This classic is revered as one of the best science fiction novels of all time. There were also political undertones in this book. He reflected the decay of his society through many of his novels. Tongo-Bungay was another such novel. This was not a novel pointing out the class differences it was a novel pointing out the reforms that should take place to form a perfect society. Wells wrote 156 novels in all. He incorporated many of his political ideals into them. Some of his more famous works are, The History of Mr. Polly, The New Machiavelli, The Invisible Man, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Outline of History, Experiment in Autobiography along with a number of other famous novels.
H.G. Wells had an effect on the people of Europe through his novels. His novels were unique, something new, and something different for the changing world of the 1890’s and early 1900’s. His novels filled the reader with adventure and fear. Before him no other writer had explored the realms that he explored. He lead the way for today’s science fiction writers. He was the father of Star Wars and Star Trek. He was the founder of a new generation of thinking and writing.
Wells brought excitement to his readers. He brought an entirely new form to his society. A society boiling over with want of change and reform. He influenced the young a great deal. One young woman by the name of Margaret Cole wrote, “I was just one of the many young who over the generations at least took their hope of the world from a many-gifted, generous, cantankerous personality, and accept…his eager conviction that the ideal of Socialism…could and would save humanity.” (Fowler 139) Wells not only shaped her generation, but many generations. His political undertones are prevalent in many of his novels. He had a deep passion for the lower class and did not feel that they should be subjected to the way the upperclass treated them. Wells did however enjoy rubbing elbows with the rich.
Wells had a few major influences in his life. First and foremost are his parents. They were of the poor merchant class. Wells saw the oppression of the poor throughout his life. This had more influence on his writing than any other person or event in his life. Thomas Huxley had an influence of his life. He was an adamant believer in Darwinian philosophy and science and passed these ideas onto Wells. Wells incorporated this into The War of the Worlds. The Martian race was far more evolved than the human race and because of this they destroyed the human race. Other influences were Charles Dickinson and Henry James. Both writers had a large collection of works and incorporated social problems and issues into their works.
The influences Wells had on his society were innumerable. He was not only a literary figure, but a social figure as well. He belonged to the Fabian Society, which was and still is a society that advocates change through democratic reform. Some other members of this organization were, George Bernard Shaw, Sidney Webb, and Beatrice Potter, all writers of the age. His influence can be summed up by a woman by the name of Jennie Lee, “H.G. Wells was one of the guiding stars of my youth.”(Halleck 257) Wells influenced many people with his novels. He defined a generation and their social and political view using Martians and invisible men. If that isn’t a great feat in history I don’t know what is.
Fowler, Alastair. A History of English Literature. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1989.
Halleck, Rueben Post. Story of English Literature. New York: American Book Company, 1937.
Wells, H.G. Experiment in Autobiography. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1934.