HG Wells

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
HG Wells ( George Charles Beresford , 1920)

Herbert George Wells (usually abbreviated HG Wells ; * 21st September 1866 in Bromley , † 13. August 1946 in London ) was an English writer and pioneer of science fiction - literature . Wells, who was also a historian and sociologist , wrote et al. a. Books with millions of copies like The Story of Our World . He had his greatest successes with the two science fiction novels (referred to by himself as "scientific romances") The War of the Worlds andThe time machine . Wells isbest knownin Germany for his science fiction books, but has also written numerous realistic novels that are still popular in the English-speaking world.



Herbert George Wells was born on September 21, 1866 in the London suburb of Bromley. His father, Joseph Wells, ran a small hardware store and was an avid professional cricketer . His mother worked as a housekeeper before their marriage. The family lived in modest circumstances.

The young Herbert George, who was called “Bertie”, inherited a penchant for reading from his father, which he could indulge in to his heart's content in the Literary Institute and the Bromley Lending Library. He was sent to local school, first to some sort of preschool and then to Morley's Academy . When the family got into great financial trouble in 1877 because of an injury to their father that crippled him for the rest of his life, Mrs. Wells was offered a job as housekeeper with her former employer in Uppark , Sussex, which she accepted. Whenever Herbert George visited his mother at work, he had the opportunity to spend hours reading in the mansion library. His mother was a powerful influence on her son during those early years. She was deeply religious, revered Queen Victoria and had strong opinions about the contacts between the classes . Herbert George was forbidden to meet girls from the lower class.

Herbert George joined as an apprentice in a cloth shop in Windsor one. However, he was unable to satisfy his instructor and had to leave after a month. For a short time he worked as an assistant teacher at a school in Somerset , and later he was a pharmacist's assistant in Midhurst for a month (January 1881) . In April of the same year he tried again as an apprentice in the cloth trade, this time in Southsea . After two years in this activity he could no longer bear it and went on his way again. The experiences and observations made during this time contributed to his criticism of the distribution of wealth, which becomes visible, for example, in A Modern Utopia .

At the age of 16 he received a position as an assistant teacher in the Progymnasium in Midhurst. In 1884 he received a scholarship of a guinean (that was 21 shillings , about a pound) a week at the Normal School of Science (renamed The Royal College of Science, now the Imperial College of Science ) in South Kensington , London. For three years he studied physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy and biology - the latter with Thomas Henry Huxley , a brilliant but polemical scientist who advocated Darwin's theory of evolution . Wells' years with Huxley shaped in him the views that he later represented in his books, namely that Christianity and its views are nonsense and man is a further developed ape, that the evolutionary process tends to be immoral and always more for one's own destruction than for Progress lead. In 1887 he came into contact with the Fabian Society through George Bernard Shaw , became a member and subsequently became involved in the newly founded Labor Party . Due to his activities there, he missed his final exam.

During his student days he had a serious accident while playing soccer, the consequences of which he suffered for many years. During this time he wrote the story The Chronic Argonauts , the success of which encouraged him to continue writing. In July 1888 he returned to London and in 1889 became a member of the teaching staff at Henley House School in Kilburn . In October 1890 he passed his exams in zoology with honors from the University of London. His next position (from 1891 to 1893) was that of a tutor in biology at the university's distance learning college. After graduating, he co-founded the Royal College of Science Association and its first president.

From 1893: beginnings as a writer

In the summer of 1893, a heavy lung haemorrhage forced him to take a long break, and from then on he was only allowed to do a sedentary job. As early as 1891/92 he had written various articles for magazines, some in the field of education. In 1893, as he recovered from his illness, he began writing short stories, essays, and book reviews for magazines including The Pall Mall Gazette , St. James's Gazette , Black and White , New Review, and The Sunday Review . In 1893 his first major work was published, the non-fiction book A Textbook of Biology . : 1895 a volume of short stories appeared in The Stolen Bacillus , a band of collected essays and two novels: The Time Machine (dt .: The Time Machine ), a reworking of the story The Chronic Argonauts was, and The Wonderful Visit . The former established his reputation as an extraordinarily powerful and imaginative writer.

In 1895 he married Amy Catherine Robbins, a former student of his - his first marriage (1891) to his cousin Isabel had since been broken up. His second marriage had two sons (George Philip, 1901, and Frank, 1903). It should not be forgotten that Rebecca West , a famous journalist and travel writer, only became his lover when she was twenty. She raised their son Anthony alone. 1910-1913 he had a relationship with Elizabeth von Arnim .

Over the years his number of great scientific novels appeared, including The Island of Dr. Moreau (German: The Island of Dr. Moreau , 1896), The Invisible Man (German: The Invisible Man , 1897), The War of the Worlds (German: The War of the Worlds , 1898), The First Men in the Moon (German: The first people on the moon , 1901) as well as many short stories, articles and realistic novels, among them the bicycle romance The Wheels of Chance (1896) and Love and Mr. Lewisham (1901).

Wells studying in London around 1890

From 1901: literary success

By the turn of the century, his health had improved significantly, and Wells made frequent trips to mainland Europe. In 1900 Wells built a house for himself in Sandgate, near Folkestone , and lived in it for nearly a decade. During this time he gained worldwide literary fame. In Sandgate he wrote some of his most famous works, for example Anticipations , a volume of essays on sociological problems (1901), The Sea Lady (1902), The Food of the Gods (1904), Kipps and A Modern Utopia (both 1905), In the Days of the Comet (1906), The War in the Air (1908), Tono-Bungay , Anne Veronica (both 1909) and The History of Mr Polly (1910).

In 1903 he also formally joined the Fabian Society , with which he had long maintained contacts. Like many liberal and socialist intellectuals of his day, Wells was a believer in eugenics . In 1904 he discussed a publication by Francis Galton and believed, literally, the sterilization of failures to be more sensible than to multiply the successful. Social Darwinist ideas were popular in England at the time and were practiced in the British Empire. Also genocidal ideas were not alien Wells. He wrote: "Those swarms of black, brown and of yellow peoples would have [sic] soft because they meet the requirements of efficiency do not comply, after all, the world is not a charitable institution." He concluded: "If the inferiority of one race are demonstrated then there is only one thing to do - and that is to exterminate them. "

However, he left the Fabian Society again in 1906 and joined the Independent Labor Party. Also in 1906 he traveled to the United States for the first time. In 1909 he moved to London and in 1912 bought a house in Easton Park near Dunmow , Essex . He stayed there until his wife's death in 1927.

From 1911: Novels of ideas and problems

The New Machiavelli (1911) marked a new direction in Wells' creative work: the novel of ideas and problems, in which the plot was subordinated to the sociological and ideological message. The works Marriage (1912), The Passionate Friends (1913), The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman (1914) and The Research Magnificent (1915) belong to this category.

With the novel The World Set Free (1914, German Liberated World ), Wells anticipated the development of the atomic bomb and later became its namesake. He was inspired by the book The Nature of Radium (1909) by the English chemist Frederick Soddy , which summarized the state of knowledge of radioactivity at the time.

Wells supported World War I and called it the "War to End All Wars". In 1918 he was briefly head of propaganda against Germany under Lord Northcliffe in Crewe House , a department of the Ministry of Information . Here he drafted a scheme for post-war Europe. His most important work, written and published during the war, was Mr. Britling sees it Through (1916).

From 1920: political writing

Shortly after the war (1920) he visited Soviet Russia and in 1921 took part in the Washington Conference. In the following years he traveled a lot and spent many winters outside the harsh English climate, which was not conducive to him. Although he continued to write novels - his most important novel in the period between the First and Second World Wars was The World of William Clissold (1926) - he turned more and more to the spread of his ideas. His main theory, which he advocated again and again during the last two decades of his life, was that humanity must adapt - or will perish - the material forces that have unleashed it.

The four works The Outline of History (1920), The Open Conspiracy (1928), Science of Life (1929), and The Work Wealth and Happiness of Mankind (1932) were all designed to popularize the idea of ​​creating a world state. In his view, this was the only alternative to a relapse into barbarism and ultimate annihilation. In 1933 he published his pessimistic science fiction The Shape of Things to Come , which was also made into a film by William Cameron Menzies in 1936 , and in 1934 his autobiography Experiment in Autobiography was published in two volumes .

Wells saw The Open Conspiracy in a way as a summary of his work: “This book gives as simply and clearly as possible the main ideas of my life, the perspective of my world. [...] All of my other works, with hardly one exception, are nothing but approaches, investigations, illustrations and comments on the core of all things - or its product - which I try to lay down here, naked to the ground and unequivocally. This is my creed. Here you will find guidelines and criteria for everything I do. "

HG Wells 1943

In 1939 he published The Right of Man , with which he started a discussion about human rights, the Wells Debate . In England he campaigned for the abolition of the monarchy.

On his last trip to the USA in 1940, he met the young Orson Welles , who on October 30, 1938, had adapted his novel from War of the Worlds into a radio play and thus caused some confusion in New York because of the feared landing of aliens, which often is handed down as "mass panic".

For him, the Second World War was confirmation that mankind had lost control of the forces it had unleashed and was inexorably moving towards its own annihilation - to which the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 contributed in particular . His last work: Mind at the End of its Tether (1945) gave expression to the despair that now filled him. Since 1943 he was an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters .

From the 1930s he lived with Moura Budberg , who looked after him during the last years of his life. After suffering from diabetes mellitus for a long time , he died on August 13, 1946 in his home in London. The exact cause of death was not disclosed. Wells' body was cremated , his ashes scattered in the sea.

A moon crater and a Martian crater are named after him.


Wells called his early novels - The Time Machine (1895), The Invisible One (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898) - scientific romances . They designed a number of what are now classically known as science fiction themes. The time machine is considered a pioneering work in modern science fiction. The books were successfully filmed several times. The radio play War of the Worlds from 1938, staged by Orson Welles , became world famous. The broadcast caused some confusion in the USA because listeners thought the fictional reportage was a realistic documentary.

It is often claimed that Wells was influenced by Jules Verne . This applies more generally to the tendency towards science fiction topics than direct literary adaptations from the Frenchman's works. There is no precise evidence for this.

In addition, Wells also wrote socially realistic novels ( Tono-Bungay , Kipps ). Wells' goal was to improve society. He expressed his ideas in a series of utopian novels ( In the Days of the Comet , The Shape of Things to Come ).

At the same time, he was pessimistic and feared future military conflicts with devastating consequences for humanity. Dystopias like When the Sleeper Wakes Up or The Island of Dr. Moreau are to be understood in this sense. The island of Dr. Moreau also sheds light on the debate about acquired and innate behavior.

Wells saw himself as a socialist and was positive about the Russian Revolution and Lenin's Marxist program (see Russia in the Shadows ). He later distanced himself from Soviet politics, especially after Stalin's takeover.

Many of Wells' short stories are available online in English.

Novels and short stories

  • The Lord of the Dynamos, 1894.
  • The Time Machine, 1895 (German: The Time Machine , 1904)
  • The Stolen Bacillus , 1895 (dt .: The Stolen Bacillus , 1910)
  • The Wonderful Visit, 1895 (dt .: The visit )
  • The Island of Dr. Moreau, 1896 (German: The Island of Dr. Moreau , 1898)
  • The Wheels of Chance, 1896.
  • The Invisible Man, 1897 (German: The Invisible Man , 1900)
  • The Plattner Story (1897)
  • The War of the Worlds, 1898 (German: The War of the Worlds , 1901)
  • The Man Who Could Work Miracles, 1898 (dt. The man who wonders could do , filmed in 1936 as The man who wanted to change the world )
  • Love and Mr Lewisham, 1899.
  • When the Sleeper Awakes, 1899 (German: When the Sleeper Awakes , 1906)
  • Tales of Space and Time 1899 (anthology; contains A Story of the Days to Come German: From coming days , 1980)
  • Anticipations, 1901.
  • The First Men in the Moon (1901) (dt. The first man on the moon )
  • The Sea Lady, 1902.
  • Twelve Stories and a Dream (1903)
  • The Land Ironclads
  • The Food of the Gods, 1904 (Eng. The giants are coming!, 1904)
  • Race in Utopia: Modern Utopia (1905)
  • Tilt. The Story of a Simple Soul, 1905 (German How to become a millionaire?, 1995; German Kipps , 2006)
  • A Modern Utopia, 1905 (German: Beyond Sirius , 1911)
  • In the Days of the Comet, 1906 (Eng. In the year of the comet , 1908)
  • This Misery of Boots, 1907.
  • The War in the Air, 1908 (Eng. The Air War , 1909, 1983)
  • Ann Veronica, 1909.
  • Tono-Bungay, 1909 (German: Tono-Bungay )
  • The History of Mr Polly, 1910 (German: Mr. Polly gets out , 1993)
  • The New Machiavelli, 1911.
  • The Country of the Blind (1911) (dt .: The Country of the Blind )
  • Marriage, 1912 (German: The Story of a Marriage , 1925)
  • The Passionate Friends, 1913.
  • The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman, 1914.
  • The World Set Free, 1914 (German: Liberated World , 1985)
  • Bealby: A Holiday, 1915 (German: Bealby. A cheerful novel , 1928)
  • Boon, The Mind Of The Race ..., 1915 (under the pseudonym Reginald Bliss)
  • The Research Magnificent, 1915.
  • Mr Brittling Sees It Through, 1916 (English: Mr. Brittling's Path to Knowledge , 1917)
  • The Soul of a Bishop, 1917.
  • Joan and Peter, 1919.
  • The Undying Fire, 1919 (German: Immortal Fire )
  • The Secret Places of the Heart, 1922 (German: Secret Chambers of the Heart )
  • Men Like Gods, 1923 (German: people, equal to gods , 1927, 1980)
  • The Dream, 1924 (German: The Dream , 1927)
  • Christina Alberta's Father, 1925 (German: Christina Alberta's father , 1929)
  • The World of William Clissold, 1926 (German: The World of William Clissold , 1927, first and second volume)
  • Meanwhile, 1927 (German: for the time being , 1930)
  • Mr Blettsworthy on Rampole Island, 1928 ( Eng . Mr. Blettsworthy on Rampole Island , 1929)
  • The King Who Was a King, 1929.
  • The Treasure in the Forest, 1929.
  • The Autocracy of Mr Parham, 1930 (German: The dictator or Mr. Parham becomes almighty , 1931)
  • The Bulpington of Blup, 1932.
  • Things to Come (or The Shape of Things to Come ), 1933.
  • The Croquet Player, 1936.
  • Speaking of Dolores, 1937.
  • Brynhild, 1937.
  • The Camford Visitation, 1937.
  • Star Begotten, 1937 (German: Children of the Stars )
  • The Brothers, 1938.
  • The Holy Terror, 1939 (German: The Holy Terror )
  • All Aboard for Ararat, 1940.
  • Babes in the Darkling Wood , 1940
  • You Can't Be Too Careful, 1941.
  • The crystal: stories . Reclam, Leipzig 1979, ISBN 3-379-00184-8 :
  1. The land of the blind
  2. The star
  3. A vision of the Last Judgment
  4. The crystal
  5. In the deep
  6. The realm of the ants
  7. The Äpyornis Island
  8. The strange orchid
  9. Plattner's story
  10. The strange story of Davidson's eyes
  11. The door in the wall
  12. Armageddon dream
  13. My first plane
  14. The new accelerator
  15. The truth about pyecraft
  16. The stolen body
  17. The story of the recently deceased Mr. Elvesham


  • Honors Physiography, 1893 (with RA Gregory)
  • Text-Book of Biology / Zoology, 1893.
  • Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific ..., 1902.
  • Mankind in the Making, 1903.
  • The Future In America, 1906 (German: The Future In America , 1911)
  • Will Socialism Destroy the Home ?, 1907.
  • First and Last Things, 1908.
  • Floor Games, 1911. (German: Our world on the floor , Rainbow Library, Vienna 1925)
  • The Great State, 1912.
  • Great Thoughts From HG Wells, 1912.
  • Thoughts From HG Wells, 1912.
  • Little Wars, 1913 (Rulebook on Wargaming with Tin Soldiers)
  • New Worlds for Old, 1913.
  • An Englishman Looks at the World, 1914.
  • The War That Will End War, 1914.
  • The War and Socialism, 1915.
  • What is coming? 1916.
  • God the Invisible King, 1917.
  • Introduction To Nocturne, 1917.
  • War and The Future (or Italy, France, And Britain At War), 1917.
  • In the Fourth Year, 1918.
  • The Idea of ​​a League of Nations, 1919.
  • The Way to the League of Nations, 1919.
  • Frank Swinnerton, 1920 (together with Arnold Bennett and Grant Overton)
  • The Outline of History, I, II, 1920, 1931, 1940 (1949, 1956, 1961) History of Life and Mankind (German: Die Weltgeschichte , 1928)
  • Russia in the Shadows, 1920. (German: Night over Russia , German Publishing Society for Politics and History, Berlin 1921)
  • The Salvaging of Civilization, 1921 (German: The rescue of civilization , with a foreword by Count Hermann Keyserling , Wieland Verlag, Munich 1922)
  • Washington and the Hope of Peace, 1922 (German: Hope for Peace , 1922)
  • A Short History of the World, 1922 (German: The history of our world , Paul Zsolnay Verlag , Berlin, Vienna and Leipzig, 1926)
  • Socialism and the Scientific Motive, 1923.
  • The Story of a Great Schoolmaster, 1924. A simple account of the life and ideas of Sanderson von Oundle , 1928
  • A Short History of Mankind, 1925.
  • A Year of Prophesying, 1925.
  • The history of our world, 1926, Paul Zsolnay Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Berlin-Vienna-Leipzig
  • Wells' Social Anticipations, 1927.
  • The Book of Catherine Wells, 1928.
  • The Open Conspiracy (also: What are we to do with Our Lives?), 1928 (German: The open conspiracy. Call for world revolution )
  • The Way the World is Going, 1928.
  • Divorce as I See It, 1930.
  • Points of View, 1930.
  • The Science of Life, 1930 (together with Julian S. Huxley and GP Wells)
  • The New Russia, 1931.
  • The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind (1931) (Eng .: work, prosperity and the happiness of mankind , 1932)
  • After Democracy, 1932.
  • An Experiment in Autobiography, 1934 (autobiography)
  • Marxism vs. Liberalism, An Interview, 1935 (together with JV Stalin )
  • The New America, 1935.
  • The Anatomy of Frustration, 1936.
  • World Brain , 1938
  • The Fate of Homo Sapiens (also: The Fate Of Man), 1939.
  • The New World Order, 1939.
  • Travels of a Republican Radical in Search of Hot Water, 1939.
  • The Common Sense of War and Peace, 1940.
  • Guide to the New World, 1941.
  • The Pocket History of the World, 1941.
  • The Conquest of Time, 1942.
  • Modern Russian and English Revolutionaries, 1942 (with Lev Uspensky)
  • The Outlook for Homo Sapiens, 1942.
  • Phoenix, 1942.
  • Crux Ansata, 1943.
  • '42 to '44, 1944.
  • Reshaping Man's Heritage, 1944 (together with JBS Haldane and Julian S. Huxley)
  • The Happy Turning, 1945.
  • Mind at the End of Its Tether . 34 pages, Heinemann Verlag, London 1945.
    • The mind at the end of its possibilities. German by Franz Fein, 50 pages, Amstutz-Herdeg Verlag, Zurich 1946.


  • In the film Escape to the Future , which is based on a novel by Karl Alexander , HG Wells travels back to 1979 with the help of a time machine he invented to find Jack the Ripper , who was on the run from the police and fled into the future with the help of the time machine is to be stopped and handed over to the police.
  • In the US action series Superman - The Adventures of Lois & Clark , HG Wells has an appearance as a time traveler in four episodes. Wells, played in his younger version by Terry Kiser , in his older version of Hamilton Camp (two episodes each), supports the two main characters in the fight against the time-traveling crook Tempus (played by Lane Davies ).
  • In the Warehouse 13 series , Wells is portrayed as a woman (Helena G. Wells) (played by Jaime Murray ). According to her, HG's books were written by Charles Wells (her brother), but almost all of the ideas came from her.
  • In the British science fiction series Doctor Who , a young HG Wells appears in the 1985 two- parter Timelash .
  • In the US series Legends of Tomorrow , Professor Stein saves a little boy from death in episode 11. This boy turns out to be HG Wells.


  • Adam Roberts: HG Wells: a literary life , Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, [2019], ISBN 978-3-030-26420-8
  • David Lodge : A whole man. Translated from the English by Martin Richter and Yamin von Rauch. Haffmans & Tolkemitt, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-942989-22-0 .
  • Michael Sherborne: HG Wells: Another Kind of Life. Peter Owen, London et al. 2010, ISBN 978-0-7206-1351-3 .
  • John Gosling: Waging The war of the worlds: a history of the 1938 radio broadcast and resulting panic, including the original script. McFarland, Jefferson, NC / London 2009, ISBN 978-0-7864-4105-1 .
  • Mark Robert Hillegas: The future as nightmare. HG Wells and the anti-utopians , Carbondale et al. a. (Southern Illinois University Press et al.) 1974 (first edition 1967). ISBN 0-8093-0680-8 . ISBN 0-8093-0676-X
  • Elmar Schenkel : HG Wells. The prophet in the labyrinth. An essayistic exploration. dtv, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-423-13243-4 .
  • John Carey: Hatred of the masses. Intellectuals 1880-1939. Göttingen 1996, pp. 146-185.
  • Michael Coren: The invisible man. The life and liberties of HG Wells. Bloomsbury 1993, McArthur, Toronto 2005, ISBN 0-394-22252-0 , ISBN 1-55278-532-7 . (engl.)
  • John R. Hammond: Herbert George Wells - an annotated bibliography of his works. Garland, New York 1977, ISBN 0-8240-9889-7 . (engl.)
  • Hans-Joachim Lang: Herbert George Wells. Hansischer Gildenverlag, Hamburg 1948.
  • Frank Henry Gschwind: HG Wells and socialism . In: Swiss half-month publication Knowledge and Life (Zurich), Vol. 24 (1920/21), pp. 39–44.

Web links

Wikisource: HG Wells  - Sources and full texts
Commons : HG Wells  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. See also HG Wells on the biography . Biography. The Biography Channel. Retrieved August 2, 2014
  2. ^ Jacky Turner: Animal Breeding, Welfare and Society. Earthscan, London / Washington 2010, p. 296.
  3. ^ David M. Levy and Sandra J. Peart. Eugenics Rides a Time Machine. HG Wells' outline of genocide. ( Memento of the original from September 3, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Reason Magazine . March 26, 2002. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.reason.com
  4. ^ HG Wells: Race in Utopia: Modern Utopia. (1905). In: The Works of HG Wells. Vol. IV. T. Fisher Unwin Verlag, London 1924-1927, p. 274.
  5. Honorary Members: HG Wells. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed March 26, 2019 .
  6. HG Wells in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature of the IAU (WGPSN) / USGS
  7. HG Wells in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature of the IAU (WGPSN) / USGS
  8. ^ HG Wells, J. Stalin: Marxism vs. Liberalism, An Interview. New Century Publishers, accessed February 5, 2012 .
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on August 5, 2005 .