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illustration ©1983 Vincent Di Fate
Herbert George Wells was born to English working-class parents in 1866. At age eighteen he earned a scholarship to Imperial College, where he came under the tutelage of Darwinian scholar T.H. Huxley. Evolutionary theory strongly influenced Wells’ early “scientific romances.” The first of these, The Chronic Argonauts, was serialized in his college newspaper in 1888. Seven years later he rewrote it as The Time Machine: An Invention, which became the first to be published in a series of popular novels including The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds. These “romances” became the foundation of modern science fiction. Their seminal influence in the field is challenged only by that of the French fantasist Jules Verne, who Wells once claimed “can’t write himself out of a paper sack.” Wells briefly joined England’s socialist movement and in later novels promoted socialism, feminism, and free love, which he put into personal practice. He was a leading proponent of the League of Nations and chaired the original proposal. Wells wrote numerous short stories and essays and more than one hundred fifty books, including the nonfiction Outline of History, which sold over two million copies. But it is his early science fiction that remains his most enduring legacy. Before his death in 1946 Wells provided his own epitaph to an interviewer: “God damn you all, I told you so.” Adaptations of Wells stories appear in Graphic Classics: H.G. Wells and Science Fiction Classics: Graphic Classics Volume 17.
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