H. G. Wells

Martin Willis

in Victorian Literature

ISBN: 9780199799558
Published online April 2012 | | DOI:
H. G. Wells

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H. G. Wells (b. 1866–d. 1946) was one of the most important and productive writers of the last century. His work is particularly interesting as it bridges the 19th and 20th centuries, revealing that the perceived gap between the Victorians and the modernists is not always significant. Wells began his writing career in the short story form, but he gained literary fame with The Time Machine, the first of his scientific romances (which also include The War of the Worlds, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, and The First Men in the Moon). These works of science fiction lead scholars to regard him as a pioneer in that genre. He continued to write fantastic fiction throughout his career, with a particular focus on utopian fiction in the early 20th century. Wells also wrote a number of realist novels (which we might see as typically Edwardian in tone and style) and a considerable body of nonfiction. His works on politics and history, especially of the later period of his career, are hugely significant contributions to the interwar period of 1919–1939. Wells’s fame in the 20th century was such that he became an important communicator on topics of national and international interest, and he was well regarded not only in Britain but also across Europe. In the final fifteen years of his life, he completed three works of autobiography, further enhancing his position as a leading cultural figure. His critical reputation in the later 20th century depended largely on his invaluable contributions as a writer on scientific themes. More recently, however, his reputation as a European intellectual has begun to be reinvestigated, and scholars from several fields (politics, sociology, literature, and history) continue to find his work stimulating and complex.

Article.  7125 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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