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H.G. Wells | Biography


Early Life and Education

H.G. (Herbert George) Wells, born in Bromley, England, on September 21, 1866, lived in a time of rapid technological innovation that introduced telephones, electricity, automobiles, and airplanes. Growing up in a poor family, Wells worked unhappily as a drapery apprentice and a chemist's assistant; these difficult early years included 13-hour workdays. He then won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science in London, but while he received a small stipend, he was always poor and hungry. At school, he helped found the Science School Journal and wrote a short story called "The Chronic Argonauts," which foreshadowed The Time Machine.

Early Career

Eventually, Wells found a teaching position at Henley House School in London. Married first to his cousin Isabel Mary, he separated from her in 1894 and married Amy Robbins, with whom he had two sons. With her knowledge, he carried on several affairs with women over the years, resulting in two more children.

Publishing Success

Wells's schooling in physics, biology, zoology, and geology, and his talent for writing led him to publish his first book, Textbook of Biology, in 1893. Two years later, he published his first novel, The Time Machine. This book sparked a highly successful writing career, and Wells went on to produce some of the earliest works of science fiction, which at the time were called scientific romances. After The Time Machine, he produced The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898). The Invisible Man first appeared in installments in Pearson's Weekly between June and August 1897 and was well received by the public, who found it both novel and entertaining. Later, Wells developed an interest in what he called the World State, where there would no longer be individual nations; he imagined this would be mankind's future.

The power of Wells's writing was nowhere more evident than on the night before Halloween 1938, when a New York City radio station broadcasting a drama of The War of the Worlds described Martians landing in New Jersey, causing some panic in the area.

By the time Wells died at age 79 on August 13, 1946, he had been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times.

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