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Summary Article: Wells, H(erbert) G(eorge) (1866–1946) from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English writer. He was a pioneer of science fiction with such novels as The Time Machine (1895) and The War of the Worlds (1898) (describing a Martian invasion of Earth), which brought him nationwide recognition. His later novels had an anti-establishment, anticonventional humour remarkable in its day, for example Kipps (1905) and Tono-Bungay (1909). He was originally a Fabian (member of a socialist organization that sought reform), and later he became a Labour party supporter. He was a Labour candidate for London University in 1921 and 1922.

Wells was born in Bromley, Kent. He failed his examinations at the Royal College of Science, South Kensington, but was subsequently awarded a degree by the University of London. He was tutor for two years at the University Tutorial College but ill health caused him to abandon teaching and take up a career as a writer. His first published works were scientific articles and textbooks. His early ‘scientific romances’ include The Island of Dr Moreau (1894) and The Invisible Man (1897). Wells was a prophet of world organization. His theme was the need for humans to impose their mastery upon their own creations and to establish charitable systems and structures by which to rule themselves, and in pursuing this concept he became a leading advocate of social planning. A number of prophecies described in fictional works such as The First Men in the Moon (1901) and The Shape of Things to Come (1933), as well as in The Outline of History (1920) and other popular non-fiction works, have been fulfilled; among them, the significance of aviation, tank warfare, World War II, and the atomic bomb. He also wrote many short stories.

His social novels explore with humour and sympathy the condition of ordinary lower-middle and working-class people. They include Love and Mr Lewisham (1900), Ann Veronica (1909), a feminist novel, The History of Mr Polly (1910), and Marriage (1912). Wells's The Outline of History was an ambitious attempt to illustrate the continuity of history from the beginnings of life to the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I. It was the first volume in a trilogy planned to popularize the historical, scientific, and sociological ideology appropriate to the task of creating a world state. The other two volumes were The Science of Life (1929), written with his son G P Wells and Julian Huxley, and The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind (1932).

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Wells, H(erbert) G(eorge)

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Welles, Orson

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Invisible Man, The

War of the Worlds, The

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