War of the Worlds: Biography

ABOUT THE AUTHORHerbert George Wells (born September 21, 1866) was the fourth child of a struggling shopkeeper and his wife, a lady’s maid (Sarah). He was largely home schooled and self-taught, although he did earn a certificate in accounting at age 13. At age 14, financial hardship forced him, his parents, and his two brothers to be separated, and Wells became a student teacher at a school in Somerset.  He began an apprenticeship to a chemist when 15, but lost the position for breaking glass.  An apprenticeship at a drapery followed, but Wells hated the menial and tedious work and resolved to pursue higher education.  In 1884, he won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science at South Kensington (today, a part of the University of London), where he met arguably the most important teacher of his life. T. H. Huxley was an eminent biologist often called “Darwin’s Bulldog” because he was a strong proponent of Charles Darwin’s recently advanced theory of evolution. (Of literary interest, Huxley was also the grandfather of Aldous Huxley, author of the novel Brave New World (1932). The “implications of Darwin’s evolutionary theory and the desire to oppose and eradicate the injustices and hypocrisies of contemporary society… run through all H.G. Wells’ work” (Clute & Nicholls, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, p. 1313).In October 1891, now working as a reader of correspondence lessons for the University Correspondence College at Cambridge, Wells wrote articles for science and education journals, as well as two textbooks (in physiography and biology). He also began a series of articles for his own self-published journal, articles that eventually became his first novel, The Time Machine (1895). It was soon followed by The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Invisible Man (1897). The War of the Worlds first appeared in serialized form in Pearson’s Magazine in 1897. William Heinemann published the first book edition, which incorporated Wells’ revisions, the following year.Wells continued to publish science fiction novels that remain influential in the genre even today, including The First Men in the Moon (1901), In the Days of the Comet (1906) and The War in the Air (1908). He also began writing on political and social issues of the day. His political activism led him to join the Fabian Society (define, and talk about socialism, and friendship and conflict with Bernard Shaw). A lecture published in 1902 as The Discovery of the Future “marked a turning-point in his thought and work; from then on he abandoned the wide-ranging, exploratory and unashamedly whimsical imagination which had produced his early scientific romances and focused on the probable development of future history and the reforms necessary to create a better world” (Clute & Nicholls, p. 1314). Wells eventually enjoyed a reputation as a major political thinker. Wells died at home on August 13, 1946.