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HG Wells

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English Literature

Herbert George Wells, also known as H. G. Wells (1866-1946) was an English novelist and journalist. Wells is known particularly for his science fiction novels, such as The War of the Worlds (1898) and The Time Machine (1895). Some of his novels have even been made into motion pictures, such as The Invisible Man (1897), The Time Machine (1895), and The War of the Worlds (1898). Wells has won recognition and acclaim for many of his novels, and in 1921, 1932, 1935 and 1946, Wells was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Let's take a look at Wells's life, contributions, and books.

H. G. Wells' biography

H. G. Wells was born on the 21st of September 1866 in Kent (England), to parents Joseph and Sarah. His family were of a working-class background, but his educational experience was lacking. He went into employment aged 14 years old until the age of 18 years old when he received a scholarship to study Biology at the Norman School of Science. While at the Norman School of Science, Wells studied under T. H. Huxley, who inspired much of his science fiction writing. After attending London University, Wells became a science teacher, and in the meantime began his writing career.

H. G. Wells: later life

H. G. Wells considered himself to be an active socialist, and believed firmly in free thought and speech. He married his cousin Isabel Mary Wells in 1891, but the two separated soon afterwards in 1894. In 1895 he remarried former student Amy Catherine Robbins. His first book, Textbook of Biology, was published in 1893. Shortly following this in 1895, he published The Time Machine. During his lifetime, Wells had two sons with his wife Amy, and both Wells and Amy remained married until she died in 1928. Wells also had two other children: one daughter with Amber Reeves, and another son with Rebecca West. Wells enjoyed a successful writing career during his lifetime, writing at least 14 novels.

H. G. Wells: cause of death

H. G. Wells died on the 13th of August 1946. The cause of his death is unknown, and he is buried in Golders Green Crematorium and Mausoleum in London (England).

H. G. Wells: books

What did Wells write?

H. G. Wells: The Time Machine (1895)

First published in 1895, Wells's novel The Time Machine explores the potential future of humans as bleak and dystopian. The novel follows the unnamed protagonist – the Time Traveller – as he travels in time to the year 802,701 A.D. When he arrives, he finds two races of people: the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi people are innocent and peaceful, while the Morlocks appear to be the exact opposite, being predatory and monstrous. The conflict between the two races seems to have an uncanny resemblance to 19th-century society, in particular mirroring its capitalism and class divisions.

A dystopia is an imagined society or civilisation in which suffering and injustice is rife.

Hardship and freedom: conditions under which the active, strong, and subtle survive and the weaker go to the wall; conditions that put a premium upon the loyal alliance of capable men, upon self-restraint, patience, and decision. And the institution of the family, and the emotions that arise therein, the fierce jealousy, the tenderness for offspring, parental self-devotion, all found their justification and support in the imminent dangers of the young. (ch.4)

H. G. Wells: The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896)

Published in 1896, The Island of Doctor Moreau explores protagonist Edward Prendick's story after being shipwrecked. He is rescued by a ship that is passing by, and revived by character Montgomery, a former medical student. The ship's captain grows to dislike Prendick and he is to be thrown overboard. However, he is rescued yet again by Montgomery and this time also by scientist Moreau, who is in possession of an island. It is there that Prendick makes some shocking and brutal discoveries about Moreau, and his origins.

But there are times when the little cloud spreads, until it obscures the sky. And those times I look around at my fellow men and I am reminded of some likeness of the beast-people, and I feel as though the animal is surging up in them. And I know they are neither wholly animal nor holy man, but an unstable combination of both. (ch.22)

H. G. Wells: The Invisible Man (1897)

The Invisible Man, published in 1897, follows the story of mad scientist called Griffin. Griffin is somewhat reclusive, and does not seem to enjoy socialising with others. After experimenting, Griffins learns how to become invisible, affording him the title of the Invisible Man. Griffin is rejected by those in his community, and we learn that he is now using his power of invisibility to commit heinous crimes, including arson and murder. Towards the end of the novel, the police search for Griffin, but to no avail. However, it is those in the community who end up catching and killing him, and at the end of the novel he becomes visible once again.

I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realisation everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself. (ch.1)

H. G. Wells: The War of the Worlds (1898)

Published in 1898, The War of the Worlds is one of Wells's most famous novels. The protagonist of the novel is nameless, and narrates the story in which Earth has been invaded by Martians. The Martians have run out of supplies and resources, and so, seek to conquer the Earth.

Soon enough there is war between the Martians and the human military, who find that they are ill-equipped in the face of Martian heat rays, which incinerate without effort anything and everything in their path. The protagonist then moves on to narrating the tale from his younger brother's perspective, when he experienced the invasion. The war between Martians and humans rages for a while, but at the end of the novel, the Martians ultimately die from earth's bacteria and diseases, which their bodily systems are not used to.

The War of the Worlds was so popular that it was adapted for the movie screen. The first movie was released in 1953, and it was then remade again in 2005.

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. (ch.1)

H. G. Wells: The First Men in the Moon (1901)

Wells's The First Men in the Moon, published in 1901, tells the tale of not one but two protagonists - Mr Bedford, a businessman from London, and Mr Cavor, a physicist. The two characters become friends, and travel to the moon with the help of an anti-gravity like material that Mr Cavor has produced. Although initially believing that there is no life on the moon, the two discover that in fact there is a whole landscape of creatures. After being captured by some of these creatures named the Selenites, Mr Bedford and Mr Cavor have to fight their way to freedom. However, after an accident only one manages to return to Earth, whilst the other is recaptured.

What is this spirit in man that urges him forever to depart from happiness and security, to toil, to place himself in danger, even to risk a reasonable certainty of death? It dawned upon me up there in the moon as a thing I ought always to have known, that man is not made simply to go about being safe and comfortable and well fed and amused. Against his interest, against his happiness he is constantly being driven to do unreasonable things. Some force not himself impels him and go he must. (ch.19)

H. G. Wells: themes

TextOverview of the themes in each text
The Time MachineSocial classScienceEvolutionProgressHumanityTime
The Island of Doctor Moreau MoralitySocial classIdentityScienceReligionNature
The Invisible ManHumanityImmoralityFreedomScienceNatureGreed
The War of the Worlds EvolutionReligionConflictSurvivalNatureScience
The First Men in the Moon ScienceProgressHumanityExplorationSurvivalSociety

H. G. Wells: awards and achievements

H. G. Wells is largely regarded as one of the founding fathers of science fiction, and his contributions to the genre are still celebrated today. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times for these contributions, and some of his novels, for example The War of the Worlds, were even adapted to be successful films. H. G. Wells influenced many budding writers, including George Orwell, Isaac Asimov, and Vladimir Nabokov. Wells's influence on literature still remains today, and his works continue to be read and studied.

H. G. Wells: Key takeaways

  • Wells was born on the 21st of September 1866 in Kent (England).
  • Aged 18, he received a scholarship to study Biology at the Norman School of Science.
  • Wells is known particularly for his science fiction novels.
  • Among Wells's most famous novels are The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Dr Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898) and The First Men in the Moon (1901).
  • Wells died on the 13th of August 1946. The cause of his death is unknown. He is buried in Golders Green Crematorium and Mausoleum in London (England).

1. H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, 2012

2. H. G. Wells, The Island of Dr Moreau, 2005

3. H. G. Wells, The Invisible Man, 2017

4. H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, 2017

5. H. G. Wells, The First Men in the Moon, 2005

HG Wells

H. G. Wells was born in Kent (England) 

H. G. Wells is known today as the father of science fiction

Wells studied under T. H. Huxley, who inspired much of his science fiction writing

Wells is known particularly for his science fiction novels, such as The War of the Worlds (1898) and The Time Machine (1895)

H. G. Wells is known today as the father of science fiction

Final HG Wells Quiz

Question

Where was H. G. Wells born?  

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Answer

H. G. Wells was born in Kent (England)  

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Question

When was H. G. Wells born?   

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Answer

H. G. Wells was born on the 21st of September 1866 

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Question

How did H. G. Wells impact the genre of science fiction?  

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Answer

H. G. Wells is known today as the father of science fiction

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Question

What inspired H. G. Wells to write?  

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Answer

Wells studied under T. H. Huxley, who inspired much of his science fiction writing 

Show question

Question

What is H. G. Wells known for? 

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Answer

Wells is known particularly for his science fiction novels, such as The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine  

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Question

Who is known as the father of science fiction?  

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Answer

H. G. Wells is known today as the father of science fiction 

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Question

From which of H. G. Wells's novels is the following quote taken from?


"Hardship and freedom: conditions under which the active, strong, and subtle survive and the weaker go to the wall; conditions that put a premium upon the loyal alliance of capable men, upon self-restraint, patience, and decision. And the institution of the family, and the emotions that arise therein, the fierce jealousy, the tenderness for offspring, parental self-devotion, all found their justification and support in the imminent dangers of the young"

Show answer

Answer

The Time Machine 

Show question

Question

From which of H. G. Wells's novels is the following quote taken from?


"But there are times when the little cloud spreads, until it obscures the sky. And those times I look around at my fellow men and I am reminded of some likeness of the beast-people, and I feel as though the animal is surging up in them. And I know they are neither wholly animal nor holy man, but an unstable combination of both"


Show answer

Answer

The Island of Doctor Moreau 

Show question

Question

From which of H. G. Wells's novels is the following quote taken from?


"I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself"


Show answer

Answer

The Invisible Man 

Show question

Question

From which of H. G. Wells's novels is the following quote taken from?


"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water"


Show answer

Answer

The War of the Worlds 

Show question

Question

From which of H. G. Wells's novels is the following quote taken from?


"What is this spirit in man that urges him forever to depart from happiness and security, to toil, to place himself in danger, even to risk a reasonable certainty of death? It dawned upon me up there in the moon as a thing I ought always to have known, that man is not made simply to go about being safe and comfortable and well fed and amused. Against his interest, against his happiness he is constantly being driven to do unreasonable things. Some force not himself impels him and go he must"


Show answer

Answer

The First Men in the Moon

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Question

How many children does H. G. Wells have? 

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Answer

H. G. Wells has four children

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Question

Where did H. G. Wells study?

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Answer

Aged 18, H. G. Wells received a scholarship to study Biology at the Norman School of Science

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Question

When did H. G. Wells die?

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Answer

H. G. Wells died on the 13th of August 1946. The cause of his death is unknown

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Question

Where is H. G. Wells buried?

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Answer

H. G. Wells is buried in Golders Green Crematorium and Mausoleum in London (England) 

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