Skip to main content
Select Source:

Wells, H. G.

H. G. Wells: (Herbert George Wells), 1866–1946, English author. Although he is probably best remembered for his works of science fiction, he was also an imaginative social thinker, working assiduously to remove all vestiges of Victorian social, moral, and religious attitudes from 20th-century life. He was apprenticed to a draper at 14 and was later able through grants and scholarships to attend the Univ. of London (grad. 1888). Inspired by the teaching of T. H. Huxley, Wells taught biology until 1893, when he began his career as a novelist. Extremely prolific, he was to write more than 100 books. His early novels and best-known books, the so-called scientific romances, are works of science fiction, full of fantasy and fascinating pseudoscientific speculations, and exemplifying the political and social beliefs of his time. They include The Time Machine (1895), The Wonderful Visit (1895), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898).

In the novels of his middle period Wells turned from the fantastic to the realistic, delineating with great energy and color the world he lived in. These books, considered his finest achievement, include Kipps (1905), Tono-Bungay (1909), Ann Veronica (1909), The History of Mr. Polly (1910), and Mr. Britling Sees It Through (1916). His later books are primarily novels of ideas in which he sets forth his view of the plans and concessions individuals must make in order to survive. Included among these final works, which became increasingly pessimistic as Wells aged, are The World of William Clissold (1926), The Shape of Things to Come (1933), World Brain (1938), and Mind at the End of Its Tether (1945). His other works include the immensely popular Outline of History (1920) and The Science of Life (1929), which was written in collaboration with his son G. P. Wells and Julian Huxley.

See his Experiment in Autobiography (1934); biographies by L. Dickson (1969), N. and J. MacKenzie (1973), and M. Sherborne (2010); studies by F. McConnell (1981), J. Huntington (1982), J. R. Hammond (1988), and D. Smith (1988).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Wells, H. G.." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Wells, H. G.." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 23, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/wells-h-g

"Wells, H. G.." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved February 23, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/wells-h-g

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Wells, H. G.

Wells, H. G. (1866–1946). Shopkeeper's son who jumped the counter to become successful author and eventually teacher-at-large to the human race. A scholarship to what is now Imperial College, London, where he studied under T. H. Huxley, suggested the power of science to make us free, though it was an imaginative energy which fuelled his early romances The Time Machine (1895) and The War of the Worlds (1898). Moving in literary and Fabian circles, he saw the novel as a medium for discussing problems ‘raised in such bristling multitude by our contemporary social development’. Perhaps no one did more to shape that development, and after the First World War he increasingly abandoned fiction for analysis and exhortation. The best-selling Outline of History (1920) offered mankind ‘salvation by history’, lasting world peace only to be secured by learning its lessons. Yet Wells's faith in human potential was not blind to obstacles to be overcome, and in the novels too comedy and pessimism are mingled.

John Saunders

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Wells, H. G.." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Wells, H. G.." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 23, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/wells-h-g

"Wells, H. G.." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved February 23, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/wells-h-g

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.