It’s hard to know where to begin with H.G. Wells (1866-1946). His remarkable career included writing The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, Kipps, The History of Mr Polly, and at least another 45 novels. He also penned more than 60 non-fiction books during a prolific career in literature.
A thinker and a visionary, Wells is famous for producing pioneering science fiction novels and is often compared to Frenchman Jules Verne, but there is so much more to his work than rampaging Martians. This highly influential author also wrote about politics, class, religion, history and society.
One of his early successes was the snappily titled Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought. This 1901 book was originally serialized in a magazine and attempted to envision life in the year 2000. He predicted the advancement of trains and cars, and the effects these forms of transport would have in dispersing populations away from major cities.
The themes of time travel, space travel, invisibility and extraterrestrial invasion - seen in his science fiction works - are all standard narratives in today’s entertainment industry from comics and books to films and television to video games. He wrote during a period when Britain’s empire stretched around the world and in the novel The First Men in the Moon he imagined Britons making the first lunar landing.
The War of the Worlds is not just science fiction but also falls into the ‘invasion literature’ sub-genre. Orson Welles’ famous radio adaptation of this story was broadcast in October 1938 and caused such a stir by delivering the story, for the most part, as a news bulletin without any commercial breaks.
Wells considered the effects of nuclear warfare in The World Set Free – a novel from 1914. Wells wrote dystopian fiction in When the Sleeper Wakes – a class-themed novel of revolt. He famously examined humanity in The Island of Doctor Moreau – a dark, dark tale of vivisection.
- Wells was a socialist and unsuccessfully ran for Parliament in 1922 and 1923.
- Wells was married twice, the first time to his cousin Isabel. He had affairs with numerous women, including the writers Amber Reeves and Rebecca West.
- Wells was a diabetic and founded a charity for fellow sufferers.
- Wells was a teacher before becoming a writer – one of his pupils was A. A. Milne.
- A crater on the far side of the moon is named after HG Wells.
- Wells died in August 1946 and his ashes were scattered at sea.
- The Time Machine - $3,203
A first edition bound in black morocco by Bayntun-Riviere.
- The Door in the Wall and Other Stories - $2,800
A limited edition of 600 copies, 300 of which were issued with 10 photogravure tipped-in plates from Alvin Langson Coburn.
- The War of the Worlds - $2,500
Two volumes. The first appearance of this story in hardcover, professionally rebound.
- Ann Veronica A Modern Love Story - $2,250
1909 first edition of this feminist novel. A presentation copy, inscribed by the author to Charles Whibley. The main character is based on Amber Reeves – Wells’ lover.
- The Essex Collected Thin-Paper Edition of the Works of H.G. Wells - $2,000
24 volumes in brown cloth with gilt titles, including a copy of Kipps signed by the author.
- The Atlantic Edition of the Works of H. G. Wells - $1,600
28 volumes bound in green paper boards. One of 1,050 numbered sets published for the American market. Signed by Wells.
- When the Sleeper Awakes - $1,250
Included a letter from Wells regarding the translation of this novel.
- Experiment in Autobiography - $1,200
Two volumes in orange cloth with gilt titles complete with darkened dust jackets. A letter from Wells was tipped into volume one and letter from his wife Catherine is tipped into the second volume.
- The Invisible Man - $1,199
First edition in red boards with gilt decoration.
- A Short History of the World - $1,216
Inscribed and signed by Wells: 'To David Haden-Guest from H G Wells. Xmas or thereabouts 1922.' Haden-Guest was a mathematician and communist killed in the Spanish Civil War.