Tuesday, January 19, 2021

SF Luminaries: William Golding

John Carey: William Golding (2009)

The Man Who Wrote ...

There's a - probably apocryphal - saying attributed to Oscar Wilde: "There are two ways of disliking my plays. One is to dislike them. The other is to prefer The Importance of Being Earnest."

Something similar would seem to apply to William Golding. Either you've never read him at all, or you've only read Lord of the Flies and didn't realise he'd written anything else.

William Golding: Lord of the Flies (1954)

But of course he did. The question is whether anything else in his oeuvre matches that first, miraculous, epoch-making success - one of the few novels, along with Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World and The Catcher in the Rye, to achieve lasting name recognition, and (what's more) to equate with a particular view of the world.

Even if you've never actually read any of them, you've no doubt already gathered that 1984 is about totalitarianism, Brave New World is about hedonistic excess, and The Catcher in the Rye is about the clash between youthful idealism and the compromises required by the adult world. As a label, Lord of the Flies stands in similarly for reversion to barbarism the moment societal constraints are removed.

Can it really be called a work of SF? Well, technically, yes, it would have to be defined that way. It's set in the (then) near future, after an atomic war, and while it might seem to deal with 'eternal human values', they're very neatly confined to the customs and mores of British schoolchildren of a particular era, the 1950s.

William Golding: To the Ends of the Earth (1992)

As you can see from the bibliography below, Golding published twelve novels in all. They include the nineteenth-century sea trilogy To the Ends of the Earth, another couple of historical novels (The Spire and The Double Tongue), together with various tales of contemporary life.

William Golding: Pincher Martin (1956)

Among the most fascinating of his works are the brilliantly imaginative psychological tour-de-force Pincher Martin, about the last moments of a drowning sailor, and the prehistoric fantasy The Inheritors, about the first encounter between Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon men.

William Golding: The Inheritors (1955)

Under which King ... ?

It made a big difference to the reputation (and sales) of a twentieth-century novelist whether or not they were corralled in some 'genre' ghetto, or could be regarded as reliably 'mainstream.'

Golding's inclusion in a 1956 anthology of stories, Sometime, Never, with SF stalwart John Wyndham and Fantasy writer and artist Mervyn Peake, signals his somewhat equivocal status at this early point in his career.

William Golding, John Wyndham, & Mervyn Peake: Sometime, Never: Three Tales of Imagination (1956)

To be honest, his first two novels could have been read either way, as 'SF' or mainstream. Nor was Pincher Martin much help, though it did signal a relentlessly experimental bent in his approach to fiction. Free Fall (1959) is more acceptably autobiographical in nature, and also includes elements of the spiritual questing characteristic of such luminaries of the post-war British novel as Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh.

After that it became clear that - whatever occasional flirtations he might have with 'genre' themes and fascinations - he was to be marketed as an occasionally 'difficult' modern novelist, rather than as any kind of pulp affiliate. He had more in common - in publishing terms, at least - with Patrick White or Janet Frame than with his near-contemporary Arthur C. Clarke.

The brilliance of Golding's prose at every stage of his career - and his recurrent set of obsessions: Ancient Greece and Egypt, visionary experience, and the ongoing effects of the Second World War - combined with his predominant theme of the loss of innocence, make this an understandable decision. For all their skill and intensity as writers, neither John Wyndham or Mervyn Peake could be said to chafe against their genre confines as much as Golding.

Nevertheless, it has - somewhat paradoxically - led to the unfair dismissal of Golding as a 'one-book man', since none of his subsequent works achieved the quasi-mythic status of Lord of the Flies.

William Golding: The Paper Men (1984)

In fact, I'd say that my dominant impression of Golding's work as a whole is variety. It was never possible to predict what era (or genre) he would attach himself to next. Who, for instance, after reading those intense social novels of his middle years, followed by the rather tired satire of The Paper Men, could have foreseen the swashbuckling readability of his late sea trilogy?

And while he never completed his revisions to it, his final novel The Double Tongue, narrated in the first person by the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo at Delphi, is as clear and arresting as anything he ever wrote.

He's well worth rediscovering. If you've never read any of his books except Lord of the Flies, you're in for a bit of a surprise. At times one wonders how he got away with such daring departures from the literary norm. I suppose because that first book kept on selling, his publishers continued to indulge him in the hopes that he'd do it again.

He never did. But in the process he became an inspiration for anyone dissatisfied with the status quo. It's not that his work is ever uncontrolled - on the contrary, he's one of the most fastidious of literary craftsmen. It's just that he seemed to have no fear of extremities in his work: no theme - madness, cannibalism, eternal damnation - seems to have been untouchable for him.

William Golding: The Double Tongue (1995)

The Monster

Of course, one reason for this may have been his own self-definition as a 'monster':
Golding kept a personal journal for over 22 years from 1971 until the night before his death ... The journal was initially used by Golding in order to record his dreams, but over time it gradually began to function as a record of his life ... At one point Golding describes setting his students up into two groups to fight each other - an experience he drew on when writing Lord of the Flies. John Carey, Emeritus professor of English literature at Oxford university, was eventually given 'unprecedented access to Golding’s unpublished papers and journals by the Golding estate'.
"I do not know," said Carey in his biography of Golding, "why he thought he was a monster." He ends his long account, however, by admitting there may be a primal scene, a hidden obscenity, that still eludes him – "something I have not discovered".

Guardian reviewer Peter Conrad considers this quiet admission of defeat a distinct cop-out for any biographer: "Carey documents Golding's ogre-like antics, but is reluctant to speculate about their origins." Conrad himself has no such qualms:
Golding called himself a monster. His imagination lodged a horde of demons, buzzing like flies inside his haunted head, and his dreams rehearsed his guilt in scenarios that read like sketches for incidents in his novels, which they often were. After dark, his mother became a murderous maniac, hurling knives, shards of shattered mirror or metal pots of scalding tea at little William; a girlfriend he had cast off returned as a stiffened corpse, which he watched himself trying to bury in the garden. At his finest, Golding paid traumatised tribute to the pain of other creatures, like the hooked octopus he once saw impaled by the "vulnerable, vulvar sensitive flesh" of its pink, screaming mouth, or a rabbit he shot in Cornwall, which stared at him before it fell with "a combination of astonishment and outrage".
But pity didn't prohibit him from firing the shot. He understood the Nazis, he said, because he was "of that sort by nature". His sexual assault on a 15-year-old girl has been titillatingly leaked to publicise Carey's biography. More generally, his son-in-law testifies that Golding specialised in belittling others – if that is, he recognised them at all. As Carey notes, he chronically misspelt names because he couldn't be bothered with people and their pesky claim to exist.
- Peter Conrad, The Guardian (30/8/2009)

William Golding: The Scorpion God (1971)

So, a drunk, a snob, a possible rapist ... Conrad concludes his review by speculating that "it may be that Carey is too sane or puritanical to comprehend the creative madness of his subject."

In Carey's defence, it should be said that he provides abundant evidence of all these aspects of Golding's personality - but also of his more loveable, less 'monstrous' traits. What's more, much of this self-condemnation comes from the pages of Golding's own dream-diary, which is far from being an objective source.

Carey does, admittedly, stick closely to the script of the documents he's been handed. But that may turn out, in the long run, to be the most valuable thing about his very unhysterical account of Golding's OTT imaginings about his own life. The heightening required to manufacture his fictions may always have lived more in the imagination than in the cold light of day.

Finally, who knows? Both Carey and Conrad are in agreement on the fact that Golding was not always a particularly pleasant person to be around. As the latter records:
His worst rampages occurred when he was drunk. Once, staying at a friend's house in London, Golding awoke in panic and dismembered a Bob Dylan puppet because he thought it was Satan.
Luckily his work can now be confidently claimed to have outlived such considerations. What's more, Carey includes a list of as-yet-unpublished "early drafts for published novels or extracts from projects unjustifiably abandoned," at least some of which will surely be allowed to appear at some point?
a "magnificent" but unfinished work of Homeric science fiction, a memoir that was self-censored because too raw, a film script about a traffic jam that rehearses the Apocalypse, a first version of The Inheritors that "cries out to be published as a novel in its own right" and a segment excised from Darkness Visible that is also "a masterpiece crying out for publication".
At the time, 1983, he seemed an odd choice for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Posterity may yet vindicate the judgement of the Swedish Academy.

William Golding (1983)

Sir William Gerald Golding


  1. Lord of the Flies. 1954. London: Faber, 1954.
  2. The Inheritors. 1955. London: Faber, 1975.
  3. Pincher Martin. London: Faber, 1956.
  4. Free Fall. 1959. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966.
  5. The Spire. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. 1964.
  6. The Pyramid. 1967. London: Faber, 1969.
  7. Darkness Visible. 1979. London: Faber, 1981.
  8. The Paper Men. London: Faber, 1984.
  9. To the Ends of the Earth: A Sea Trilogy, comprising Rites of Passage; Close Quarters; and Fire Down Below. 1980, 1987 & 1989. London: Faber, 1992.
  10. The Double Tongue. London: Faber, 1995.

  11. Stories:

  12. Golding, William, John Wyndham, & Mervyn Peake. Sometime, Never: Three Tales of Imagination. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1956.
  13. The Scorpion God: Three Short Novels. 1971. London: Faber, 1973.

  14. Drama:

  15. The Brass Butterfly: A Play in Three Acts. 1958. Faber School Editions. London: Faber, 1963.

  16. Non-fiction:

  17. The Hot Gates and Other Occasional Pieces. 1965. London: Faber, 1984.
  18. A Moving Target. London: Faber, 1982.
  19. An Egyptian Journal. London: Faber, 1985.

  20. Secondary:

  21. Mark Kinkead-Weekes, & Ian Gregor. William Golding: A Critical Study. 1967. London: Faber, 1984.
  22. John Carey. William Golding: The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies - A Life. London: Faber, 2009.

William Golding: Plaque (1945-62)

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

SF Luminaries: Jules Verne

Étienne Carjat: Jules Verne (1884)

It's hard to communicate the strange charm of Jules Verne's books to anyone who wasn't lucky enough to read them at the right age - maybe somewhere between 10 and 17? Their merits are not readily apparent on the surface: clumsy dialogue, ridiculously implausible events, a backdrop of misinformation about virtually every corner of the world ... And yet, and yet ...

Jules Verne: Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864 / 1874)

I suppose that my favourite remains Journey to the Centre of the Earth. I loved the characters' long voyage to Iceland before they even started to make their descent in the footsteps of that intrepid 16th century alchemist, Arne Saknussemm. I liked the cryptogram and complex clues they had to solve along the way, and Verne's vision of the Earth's interior was suitably awe-inspiring.

Henry Levin, dir.: Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)
l-r: Pat Boone, Peter Ronson, James Mason, & Arlene Dahl

It did come as a bit of a shock when I watched the film version of the novel on TV, only to discover that the setting had been shifted from Hamburg to Edinburgh, and a love interest and villainous saboteur added to the plot! It was still fun, but virtually all the complexities which made the novel so rewarding seemed to have been removed.

Jules Verne: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869-70 / 1976)

The same, alas, was true of probably his most famous novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. The version above, edited by Walter James Miller, restores to the text all the passages generally removed in English translation. The editor points out that there's a simple reason why Verne is regarded as essentialy a children's writer in English whereas his works are taken quite seriously in France: because we're not actually reading the same book.

Richard Fleischer, dir.: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

By comparison with the sins of his various translators, the sins of the above adaptation seem quite venial (though Kirk Douglas's singing is a heavy price to have to pay for admission). James Mason makes an excellent, brooding Captain Nemo, though admittedly the character's Indian heritage is left in the background.

Verne has been quite well served by his various illustrators over the years, however. The above graphic adaptation leans heavily on the brooding, Doré-influenced style of the original nineteenth-century editions. The chapter on Atlantis is one of the highlights of the novel, along with the famous encounter with a giant squid!

Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville: Atlantis (1870)

Which brings us to a confession. I'm afraid I have to admit to having read quite a few of Verne's works as Classics Illustrated comics rather than as books. To this day, for instance, I've never actually read Off on a Comet, but the comic below was one of my favourites.

Jules Verne: Off on a Comet (Classics Illustrated, 1959-60)

Others, such as From the Earth to the Moon and its sequel Around the Moon I read both as comics and, subsequently, novels. It all depended on which ones my parents had copies of, and - more to the point - which of them had found their way to the shelves of my Intermediate and Secondary School libraries.

Victor G. Ambrus: Jules Verne's A Long Vacation (1888 / 1967)

After Journey to the Centre of the Earth, the above translation of Verne's Deux ans de vacance [A Two-Year Holiday] was my all-time favourite. I'm not quite sure why. There was a curious atmosphere about the book which seemed to transcend its fairly familiar Robinson Crusoe-esque plot (what the French call a 'Robinsonade'). It helped that the characters were all supposed to be pupils at a school in Auckland, New Zealand who'd ended up on a desert island by mistake - but that wasn't the main reason.

Jules Verne: The Mysterious Island (1874-75 / 1965)

I guess its rather plotless, episodic structure made it seem more like life than some of his more intricately woven stories. Much though I subsequently enjoyed reading The Mysterious Island (in the Airmont Classics edition pictured above), I couldn't believe in it the way I did in A Long Vacation.

Victor Ambrus (1935- )

Recently I made the experiment of rereading the book, having run across a copy in a second-hand bookshop. Its allure had faded somewhat, I must confess, but it was still an interesting and occasionally atmospheric book. Sometimes you do have to encounter a book at the right age for it to leave an indelible impression, though - the Victor Ambrus illustrations still seem as magical as ever to me.

Jules Verne: Les Voyages Extraordinaires. 32 vols (Édition Jean de Bonnot, 1976)

Once or twice I've toyed with the idea of buying a complete set of the Voyages Extraordinaires in French. If I were to ever see such a thing on sale, I suspect I would. Calculating just how much it would cost to have it sent out here (and trying to think where I could possibly put it) has put me off so far, however.

Jules Verne: Les Voyages Extraordinaires. 32 vols (Édition Jean de Bonnot, 1976)

And do I really want to read all of them? Apart from the bona fide masterpieces, some of them can be pretty tough going, I've found. The English translations simply aren't reliable enough to be worth reading en masse, however, so it's a project I'll continue to think about.

Georges Perec (1936-1982)

Georges Perec, probably my favourite twentieth-century French writer, was a Jules Verne obsessive, and constantly made references to him in his works. For Perec, I think Verne represented the storytelling impulse at its most pure and unselfconscious.

Georges Perec: W ou le souvenir d'enfance (1975)

In such books as his fictional memoir W, or the Memory of Childhood, Perec interweaves his reconstruction of a (now lost) Verne-like adventure story he wrote as a schoolboy with the dawning awareness of his status as a Jewish child in hiding in wartime France, along with the knowledge he subsequently obtained of his mother's death in Auschwitz.

David Bellos: Georges Perec: A Life in Words (1975)

One reason for the celebrated inaccuracies of Verne's settings - Pacific islands full of kangaroos and Kauri trees, savage tribes in the middle of sober colonial empires - was the fact that they were mostly based on clippings from magazines, collected and classified in an immense set of filing cabinets by the desk-bound Verne, who never actually travelled to any of the places he described in his books.

This may have been one of the reasons why he became an essential alter-ego for Perec. Where the former could welcome Modernity with boosterish enthusiasm, the latter, who sought a not dissimilar refuge in his crossword puzzles and word games, was foredoomed from childhood to be one of its victims.

In this Steampunk-infested age, it seems odd that its enthusiasts don't read and talk more about Jules Verne. It's hard to exaggerate his influence on his own time and the progress of Science Fiction over the century to follow.

He's still one of the world's best-known and most translated writers, like it or not, and his swashbuckling approach to narrative can be seen clearly in the early American pulp magazines, as well as in such isolated works as New Zealand's first homegrown SF novel, The Great Romance.

'The Inhabitant': The Great Romance (1881)

Georges Roux: Hetzel Advertisement (1890)

Jules Gabriel Verne

    Voyages extraordinaires [published in Verne's lifetime]:

  1. Cinq Semaines en ballon. [Five Weeks in a Balloon] (1863)
  2. Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras. [The Adventures of Captain Hatteras]. Serialised 1864–5 (1866)
  3. Voyage au centre de la Terre. [Journey to the Center of the Earth] (1864)
    • Voyage au centre de la terre. 1864. Les Voyages Extraordinaires. Collection Hetzel. Paris: Librairie Hachette et Cie, 1919.
    • Journey to the Centre of the Earth. 1864. Trans. Robert Baldick. Penguin Science Fiction. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965.
  4. De la Terre à la Lune. [From the Earth to the Moon]. Serialised 1865 (1865)
    • From the Earth to the Moon. 1865. A Digit Book. London: Brown, Watson, Ltd., 1958.
    • Classic Science Fiction: Three Complete Illustrated Novels - Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea / From the Earth to the Moon / Round the Moon. 1869-70, 1865, 1869-70. Introduction by Alan K. Russell. Castle Books. Secausus, N.J.: Book Sales Inc., 1981.
  5. Les Enfants du capitaine Grant. [In Search of the Castaways]. Serialised 1865–7 (1867–8)
  6. Vingt Mille Lieues sous les mers. [Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea]. Serialised 1869–70 (1869–70)
    • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. 1869-70. Illustrated by Peter Henville. 1955. London: The Heirloom Library, 1956.
    • The Annotated Jules Verne: Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. Ed. Walter James Miller. New York: Thomas J. Crowell, 1976.
    • Classic Science Fiction: Three Complete Illustrated Novels - Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea / From the Earth to the Moon / Round the Moon. 1869-70, 1865, 1869-70. Introduction by Alan K. Russell. Castle Books. Secausus, N.J.: Book Sales Inc., 1981.
  7. Autour de la Lune. [Around the Moon]. Serialised 1869 (1870)
    • Round the Moon. 1869-70. The Royal Series. 1958. London: Ward, Lock & Co., Ltd., 1963.
    • Classic Science Fiction: Three Complete Illustrated Novels - Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea / From the Earth to the Moon / Round the Moon. 1869-70, 1865, 1869-70. Introduction by Alan K. Russell. Castle Books. Secausus, N.J.: Book Sales Inc., 1981.
  8. Une Ville flottante. [A Floating City]. Serialised 1870 (1871)
  9. Aventures de trois Russes et de trois Anglais. [The Adventures of Three Englishmen and Three Russians in South Africa]. Serialised 1871–2 (1872)
  10. Le Pays des fourrures. [The Fur Country]. Serialised 1872–3 (1873)
  11. Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours. [Around the World in Eighty Days]. Serialised 1872 (1873)
    • Round the World in Eighty Days. 1873. Fontana Books. London: Collins, 1956.
  12. L'Île mystérieuse. [The Mysterious Island]. Serialised 1874–5 (1874–5)
    • L’île mystérieuse. 1875. Maxi-poche. Classiques Français. Paris: Bookking International, 1995.
    • The Mysterious Island. 1875. Introduction by Raymond R. Canon. New York: Airmont Publishing Company, Ltd., 1965.
  13. Le Chancellor. [The Survivors of the Chancellor]. Serialised 1874–5 (1875)
  14. Michel Strogoff. [Michael Strogoff]. Serialised 1876 (1876)
  15. Hector Servadac. [Off on a Comet]. Serialised 1877 (1877)
  16. Les Indes noires. [The Child of the Cavern]. Serialised 1877 (1877)
  17. Un Capitaine de quinze ans. [Dick Sand, A Captain at Fifteen]. Serialised 1878 (1878)
  18. Les Cinq Cents Millions de la Bégum. [The Begum's Fortune]. Serialised 1879 (1879)
  19. Les Tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine. [Tribulations of a Chinaman in China]. Serialised 1879 (1879)
  20. La Maison à vapeur. [The Steam House]. Serialised 1879–80 (1880)
  21. La Jangada. [Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon]. Serialised 1881 (1881)
  22. L'École des Robinsons. [Godfrey Morgan]. Serialised 1882 (1882)
  23. Le Rayon vert. [The Green Ray]. Serialised 1882 (1882)
  24. Kéraban-le-têtu. [Kéraban the Inflexible]. Serialised 1883 (1883)
  25. L'Étoile du sud. [The Vanished Diamond]. Serialised 1884 (1884)
  26. L'Archipel en feu. [The Archipelago on Fire]. Serialised 1884 (1884)
  27. Mathias Sandorf. [Mathias Sandorf]. Serialised 1885 (1885)
  28. Un Billet de loterie. [The Lottery Ticket]. Serialised 1886 (1886)
  29. Robur-le-Conquérant. [Robur the Conqueror]. Serialised 1886 (1886)
  30. Nord contre Sud. [North Against South]. Serialised 1887 (1887)
  31. Le Chemin de France. [The Flight to France]. Serialised 1887 (1887)
  32. Deux Ans de vacances. [Two Years' Vacation]. Serialised 1888 (1888)
    • A Long Vacation. 1888. Trans. Olga Marx. Illustrated by Victor G. Ambrus. London: Oxford University Press, 1967.
  33. Famille-sans-nom. [Family Without a Name]. Serialised 1889 (1889)
  34. Sans dessus dessous. [The Purchase of the North Pole] (1889)
  35. César Cascabel. [César Cascabel]. Serialised 1890 (1890)
  36. Mistress Branican. [Mistress Branican]. Serialised 1891 (1891)
  37. Le Château des Carpathes. [Carpathian Castle]. Serialised 1892 (1892)
  38. Claudius Bombarnac. [Claudius Bombarnac]. Serialised 1892 (1893)
  39. P'tit-Bonhomme. [Foundling Mick]. Serialised 1893 (1893)
  40. Mirifiques Aventures de Maître Antifer. [Captain Antifer]. Serialised 1894 (1894)
  41. L'Île à hélice. [Propeller Island]. Serialised 1895 (1895)
  42. Face au drapeau. [Facing the Flag]. Serialised 1896 (1896)
  43. Clovis Dardentor. [Clovis Dardentor]. Serialised 1896 (1896)
  44. Le Sphinx des glaces. [An Antarctic Mystery]. Serialised 1897 (1897)
  45. Le Superbe Orénoque. [The Mighty Orinoco]. Serialised 1898 (1898)
  46. Le Testament d'un excentrique. [The Will of an Eccentric]. Serialised 1899 (1899)
  47. Seconde Patrie. [The Castaways of the Flag]. Serialised 1900 (1900)
  48. Le Village aérien. [The Village in the Treetops]. Serialised 1901 (1901)
  49. Les Histoires de Jean-Marie Cabidoulin. [The Sea Serpent]. Serialised 1901 (1901)
  50. Les Frères Kip. [The Kip Brothers]. Serialised 1902 (1902)
  51. Bourses de voyage. [Travel Scholarships]. Serialised 1903 (1903)
  52. Un Drame en Livonie. [A Drama in Livonia]. Serialised 1904 (1904)
  53. Maître du monde. [Master of the World]. Serialised 1904 (1904)
  54. L'Invasion de la mer. [Invasion of the Sea]. Serialised 1905 (1905)

  55. Posthumous additions [extensively rewritten or composed by Verne's son Michel]:

  56. Le Phare du bout du monde. [The Lighthouse at the End of the World]. Serialised 1905 (1905)
  57. Le Volcan d’or. [The Golden Volcano]. Serialised 1906 (1906)
  58. L’Agence Thompson and Co. [The Thompson Travel Agency]. Serialised 1907 (1907)
  59. La Chasse au météore. [The Chase of the Golden Meteor]. Serialised 1908 (1908)
  60. Le Pilote du Danube. [The Danube Pilot]. Serialised 1908 (1908)
  61. Les Naufragés du "Jonathan". [The Survivors of the "Jonathan"]. Serialised 1909 (1909)
  62. Le Secret de Wilhelm Storitz. [The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz]. Serialised 1910 (1910)
  63. L’Étonnante Aventure de la mission Barsac. [The Barsac Mission]. Serialised 1914 (1920)

  64. Other novels:

  65. Voyage en Angleterre et en Ecosse. [Backwards to Britain]. 1860 (first published 1989)
  66. Paris au XXe siècle. [Paris in the Twentieth Century]. 1863 (first published 1994)

  67. Secondary:

  68. Costello, Peter. Jules Verne: Inventor of Science Fiction. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1978.

Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville: Captain Nemo (1870)

Thursday, January 07, 2021

SF Luminaries: H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells (1911)

"I beg your pardon, sir," he said in his rather thin cockney voice, "is this your book?"
"It doesn't matter at all," said Wimsey gracefully, "I know it by heart. I only brought it along with me because it's handy for reading a few pages when you're stuck in a place like this for the night. You can always take it up and find something entertaining."
"This chap Wells," pursued the red-haired man, "he's what you'd call a very clever writer, isn't he? It's wonderful how he makes it all so real, and yet some of the things he says, you wouldn't hardly think they could really be possible. ...

Dorothy L. Sayers: Hangman's Holiday (1933)

So begins the first story, "The Image in the Mirror", in Dorothy Sayer's detective story collection Hangman's Holiday. Lord Peter Wimsey's interlocutor goes on to discuss with him the implications of H. G. Wells's "The Plattner Story", an account of a schoolmaster who gets blown into the fourth dimension and comes back reversed: his left turned to right, his right to left.

It's pretty clear that the book they're discussing is the then fairly recently published omnibus edition of The Short Stories of H. G. Wells. What I find most interesting about their conversation, though, is Wimsey's throwaway line about knowing it "by heart".

There was a time when this was my favourite book in the world, and I too knew it virtually by heart. In fact, I had a kind of ritual which involved trying to read the whole thing - all 1100-odd pages - in one day, but it's not an experiment I would really recommend.

H. G. Wells: Short Stories (1952)

By then the stories were so familiar to me that I could practically recite them, racing from The Time Machine:
The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us.
... all the way through to "A Dream of Armageddon", with its wonderfully poetic last lines:
"Nightmares," he cried; "nightmares indeed! My God! Great birds that fought and tore."

H. G. Wells: Complete Short Stories (1970)

Although it was subsequently reprinted under the title The Complete Short Stories, the collection is by no means that - Wells, after all, had another two decades to live when it first appeared.

The 62 stories (and one essay) are divided into five sections, four of which reprint earlier stand-alone collections of Wells's:
  • The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents [1895]
  • The Plattner Story and Others [1897]
  • Tales of Space and Time [1899]
  • Twelve Stories and a Dream [1903]
The opening section, The Time Machine and Other Stories, never published separately in book form, contains some of his strongest stories, published piecemeal throughout the 1890s. There are also another five separate stories grouped between sections 4 and 5 (for fuller details, see my breakdown of the contents in the Bibliography below).

There is, however, another collection entitled The Complete Short Stories. This one was edited by John Hammmond in 1998. As well as all of the stories included in the 1927 collection - with the exception of the short novel The Time Machine - it includes another 22, most of them previously published in Hammond's 1984 collection The Man With a Nose and Other Uncollected Stories of H. G. Wells.

No doubt further stories will continue to surface from time to time (for more information, see the "H. G. Wells Bibliography" page on Wikipedia), but for all intents and purposes, these 84 stories might as well be thought of as the established canon.

As Dave, one of the commentators on this book on Goodreads, informs us:
This collection tied for 4th on the Arkham Survey for Basic SF titles ... behind “Seven Science Fiction Novels” by H. G. Wells (the winner), Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, and Olaf Stapledon’s “Last and First Men”. It also finished 19th on the 1952 Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll.

H. G. Wells: Seven Science Fiction Novels (1934)

Those seven novels were very well chosen. They consist of:
  1. The First Men in the Moon [1901]
  2. The Island of Dr. Moreau [1896]
  3. The War of the Worlds [1898]
  4. The Invisible Man [1897]
  5. The Time Machine [1895]
  6. The Food of the Gods [1904]
  7. In the Days of the Comet [1906]
It's hard to imagine a more influential set of titles. Between them they introduced virtually every standard trope of the SF genre as it would develop over the next hundred years: space travel, time travel, alien invasion, utopian futures, genetic manipulation ... pretty much everything except robots (which would be added to the mix by Czech writer Karel Čapek's play R.U.R in 1920).

The dazzling talent of the young Wells seemed destined to sweep everything before it. As C. S. Lewis once quipped, however, as time went on he increasingly "traded his birthright for a pot of message" (if you don't get the pun, it's probably because you weren't brought up on the Authorised Version of the Bible. In the Book of Genesis, Esau trades his birthright to Jacob "for a mess of pottage"). Har-de-har-har. Maybe you had to be there ...

His later work does seem to lack the zest of those remarkable works of his first decade as a writer, but he remains one of the great sages and pathfinders for all subsequent work in the field of Speculative Fiction. The fact that he moved so easily from social satire to straight science fiction to the fantastic and supernatural (something very few of his successors succeeded in doing) meant that he avoided being typecast as a 'genre' writer. Though the sheer clarity and power of his prose also had a lot to do with that.

In 1930 Odhams Press published a 12-volume edition of his selected fiction which covered most of his major work in that form:

Odhams: H. G. Wells Collection (1930)

The H. G. Wells Collection. 12 vols. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930]:
  1. The Invisible Man / The Secret Places of the Heart / God the Invisible King (1897, 1922 & 1917)
  2. Love and Mr Lewisham / Marriage (1900 & 1912)
  3. The First Men in the Moon / The World Set Free (1901 & 1914)
  4. Kipps / The Research Magnificent (1905 & 1915)
  5. Tono-Bungay / A Modern Utopia (1909 & 1905)
  6. The History of Mr Polly / The War in the Air (1910 & 1908)
  7. The Sleeper Awakes / Men Like Gods (1910 & 1923)
  8. The New Machiavelli / The Food of the Gods (1911 & 1904)
  9. The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman / The Dream (1914 & 1924)
  10. Mr Britling Sees it Through / In the Days of the Comet (1916 & 1906)
  11. Joan and Peter: A Story of an Education / "The Country of the Blind" / "Jimmy Goggles the God" / "Mr Brisher’s Treasure" (1918, 1904, 1898 & 1899)
  12. Collected Short Stories (1927)

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

I suppose, if I had to choose myself from this gallery of masterpieces, the one I would go for would be The Island of Doctor Moreau. It's been filmed - badly - on more than one occasion (most recently with Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando in the principal roles), but the book itself has a haunting, nightmarish quality which completely entranced me when I first read it as a teenager.

John Frankenheimer, dir.: The Island of Doctor Moreau (1996)

The figure of the mad scientist, tampering with God's work without fear or scruple, who consequently gets his comeuppance, comes to us straight from Frankenstein, of course. But the colonial setting transfers it into the morally compromised world of the early Conrad: Almayer's Folly (1895), say, or An Outcast of the Islands (1896).

Don Taylor, dir.: The Island of Doctor Moreau (1977)

There are many themes jostling for dominance in this strange early story of Wells's: colonialism and colonial exploitation principal - in my view, at least - among them. One could almost see it as a counterblast to Kipling's Jungle Books (1894-1895). The strange parodic chants the half-animals live by certainly recall some of the stories and songs of Mowgli and his various brethren.

Big Finish: The Island of Doctor Moreau (2017)

The colonial theme continues to recur in Wells's later fiction: in The First Men in the Moon (1901) and - perhaps most explicitly - Tono-Bungay (1909). I suppose the thing which makes Wells's early fiction so durable, in fact, is its refusal to simplify or avoid difficult questions of exploitation and brutality.

Later, of course, when he became a sage, he seems to have felt a responsibility to the 'left' in general which put him in strange company: co-authoring a book with Josef Stalin is not something most of us would want on our CV. Expediency and responsibility choked the initial outrage he felt - as a writer - at injustice and cruelty, just as personal prosperity gradually robbed his social satire of its edge.

The important thing about H. G. Wells, though, is not so much that he went off the rails a bit in his later years, as the extraordinary heights he had to fall from. I would argue strongly that the best place to start is by reading the original edition of The Stories of H. G. Wells, in any of its innumerable reprints. After that, the Seven Science Fiction Novels of 1934 will supply most of the rest of his truly durable work.

H. G. Wells: The History of Mr Polly (1910)

Mind you, this leaves out a number of excellent contemporary novels - Kipps and The History of Mr Polly, for instance. The Sleeper Awakes and The War in the Air should probably have been included among the best of his early Science Fiction novels, too.

Henri Lanos: When the Sleeper Wakes (1899)

The recent news that the Royal Mint has just issued a special coin commemorating 75 years since H. G. Wells's death certainly confirms his continuing importance in British (and world) culture. On the other hand, certain errors on the coin - documented at length by various critics - show how little accurate knowledge of his work people actually have:
As the name suggests, the tripod only had three legs in Wells' novel. "How many people did this have to go through? Did they know how to count? Do they know what the "tri" prefix means??" artist Holly Humphries asked on Twitter.

The War of the Worlds (2018)
[Note the three legs and flexible limbs in the illustration above]

Not only this, but the portrait of the 'invisible man' on the coin has also drawn criticism:
Fans were also disappointed by the appearance of a top hat, supposedly in homage to Wells' book "The Invisible Man." The scientist Griffin, the titular Invisible Man, "was no gentleman, and did not wear a top hat," [Adam Roberts, vice-president of the H.G. Wells Society,] said.
"I suspect the designer has been influenced consciously or otherwise by DC Comics' 'Gentleman Ghost' - but he had nothing to do with Wells."

Here, however, I would have to take issue with the critics, whose knowledge of Victorian mores may not be quite so profound as they think. The original drawing above, by Wells himself, in a presentation copy of the book's first edition, clearly shows the invisible man in a top hat.

To complete the hat-trick, another flaw was spotted by Roberts, who said:
"The legend written around the rim of the coin, 'GOOD BOOKS ARE THE WAREHOUSES OF IDEAS', is (though it's sometimes attributed to Wells by various internet quote-sites) not an actual quotation by Wells."
Chris Costello, the coin's designer, remains defiant, insisting that "he was intentionally reinterpreting imagery from Wells' works for a modern audience."
"The characters in 'War of the Worlds' have been depicted many times, and I wanted to create something original and contemporary," he said.
"My design takes inspiration from a variety of machines featured in the book - including tripods and the handling machines which have five jointed legs and multiple appendages. The final design combines multiple stories into one stylized and unified composition that is emblematic of all of H.G. Well's (sic) work and fits the unique canvas of a coin."
I'll certainly grant that the choice of a four-legged tripod is "original" (though possibly somewhat misguided), and I don't think any responsibility can be laid at Costello's door for the probably spurious quotation, so I suppose the whole affair remains more a cause for celebration than carping criticism. I do wish, though, that artists would make a point of always - not just sometimes - reading the books they've been asked to illustrate.

Bernard Bergonzi: The Early H. G. Wells (1961)

George Charles Beresford: H. G. Wells (1920)

Herbert George Wells


  1. The Time Machine (1895)
    • The Short Stories of H. G. Wells. 1927. London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1952.
  2. The Wonderful Visit (1895)
  3. The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896)
    • The Island of Doctor Moreau. 1896. A Magnum Easy Eye Book. New York: Lancer Books, Inc., 1968.
  4. The Wheels of Chance (1896)
  5. The Invisible Man (1897)
    • The Invisible Man / The Secret Places of the Heart / God the Invisible King. 1897, 1922 & 1917. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  6. The War of the Worlds (1898)
    • The War of the Worlds. 1898. Penguin Science Fiction. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963.
  7. When the Sleeper Wakes (1899)
    • When the Sleeper Wakes. 1899. London: Macmillan & Co. Limited, 1906.
  8. Love and Mr Lewisham (1900)
    • Love and Mr Lewisham / Marriage. 1900 & 1912. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
    • Love and Mr Lewisham. 1900. Introduction by Frank Wells. 1954. Collins Classics. London & Glasgow: Collins Clear-Type Press, 1959.
  9. The First Men in the Moon (1901)
    • The First Men in the Moon / The World Set Free. 1901 & 1914. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
    • The First Men in the Moon. 1901. Introduction by Frank Wells. Fontana Books. London: Collins Clear-Type press, 1966.
  10. The Sea Lady (1902)
    • The Sea Lady: A Tissue of Moonshine. 1902. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1948.
  11. The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth (1904)
    • The Food of the Gods. 1904. Introduction by Ronald Seth. Collins Classics. London & Glasgow: Collins Clear-Type Press, 1955.
  12. Kipps (1905)
    • Kipps / The Research Magnificent. 1905 & 1915. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  13. A Modern Utopia (1905)
    • Tono-Bungay / A Modern Utopia. 1909 & 1905. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  14. In the Days of the Comet (1906)
    • Mr Britling Sees it Through / In the Days of the Comet. 1916 & 1906. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  15. The War in the Air (1908)
    • The History of Mr Polly / The War in the Air. 1910 & 1908. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  16. Tono-Bungay (1909)
    • Tono-Bungay / A Modern Utopia. 1909 & 1905. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  17. Ann Veronica (1909)
    • Ann Veronica. 1909. Penguin Books 2887. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968.
  18. The History of Mr Polly (1910)
    • The History of Mr Polly / The War in the Air. 1910 & 1908. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
    • The History of Mr Polly. 1910. Ed. A. C. Ward. The Heritage of Literature Series. London: Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd., 1959.
  19. The Sleeper Awakes (1910)
    • The Sleeper Awakes / Men Like Gods. 1910 & 1923. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  20. The New Machiavelli (1911)
    • The New Machiavelli. 1911. Penguin Books 575. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1946.
  21. Marriage (1912)
    • Love and Mr Lewisham / Marriage. 1900 & 1912. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  22. The Passionate Friends (1913)
    • The Passionate Friends. 1913. London: George Newnes, Limited, n.d.
  23. The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman (1914)
    • The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman / The Dream. 1914 & 1924. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  24. The World Set Free (1914)
    • The First Men in the Moon / The World Set Free. 1901 & 1914. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  25. Bealby: A Holiday (1915)
    • Bealby: A Holiday. 1915. London: George Newnes, Limited, n.d.
  26. [as Reginald Bliss] Boon (1915)
  27. The Research Magnificent (1915)
    • Kipps / The Research Magnificent. 1905 & 1915. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  28. Mr Britling Sees It Through (1916)
    • Mr Britling Sees it Through / In the Days of the Comet. 1916 & 1906. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  29. The Soul of a Bishop (1917)
  30. Joan and Peter: The Story of an Education (1918)
    • Joan and Peter: A Story of an Education / The Country of the Blind / Jimmy Goggles the God / Mr Brisher’s Treasure. 1918, 1904, 1898 & 1899. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  31. The Undying Fire (1919)
  32. The Secret Places of the Heart (1922)
    • The Invisible Man / The Secret Places of the Heart / God the Invisible King. 1897, 1922 & 1917. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  33. Men Like Gods (1923)
    • The Sleeper Awakes / Men Like Gods. 1910 & 1923. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  34. The Dream (1924)
    • The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman / The Dream. 1914 & 1924. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  35. Christina Alberta's Father (1925)
  36. The World of William Clissold (1926)
  37. Meanwhile (1927)
  38. Mr. Blettsworthy on Rampole Island (1928)
    • Mr. Blettsworthy on Rampole Island. London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1928.
  39. The Autocracy of Mr. Parham (1930)
  40. The Bulpington of Blup (1932)
  41. The Shape of Things to Come (1933)
    • The Shape of Things to Come. 1933. Corgi SF Collector’s Library. London: Transworld Publishers Ltd., 1974.
  42. Things to Come: A Film Story Based on the Material Contained in His History of the Future “The Shape of Things to Come.” (1936)
    • Things to Come: A Film Story Based on the Material Contained in His History of the Future “The Shape of Things to Come.” 1935. London: The Cresset Press, 1936.
  43. The Croquet Player (1936)
  44. Brynhild (1937)
  45. Star Begotten: A Biological Fantasia (1937)
    • Star Begotten: A Biological Fantasia. 1937. Sphere Science Fiction. London: sphere Books Ltd., 1977.
  46. The Camford Visitation (1937)
  47. Apropos of Dolores (1938)
  48. The Brothers (1938)
  49. The Holy Terror (1939)
  50. Babes in the Darkling Wood (1940)
  51. All Aboard for Ararat (1940)
  52. You Can't Be Too Careful (1941)

  53. Short Stories:

  54. The Short Stories. 1927. London: Ernest Benn, 1948:

      The Time Machine and Other Stories

    1. The Time Machine
    2. The Empire of the Ants
    3. A Vision of Judgement
    4. The Land Ironclads
    5. The Beautiful Suit
    6. The Door in the Wall
    7. The Pearl of Love
    8. The Country of the Blind

    9. The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents [1895]

    10. The Stolen Bacillus
    11. The Flowering of the Strange Orchid
    12. In the Avu Observatory
    13. The Triumphs of a Taxidermist
    14. A Deal in Ostriches
    15. Through a Window
    16. The Temptation of Harringay
    17. The Flying Man
    18. The Diamond Maker
    19. Æpyornis Island
    20. The Remarkable Case of Davidson's Eyes
    21. The Lord of the Dynamos
    22. The Hammerpond Park Burglary
    23. The Moth
    24. The Treasure in the Forest

    25. The Plattner Story and Others [1897]

    26. The Plattner Story
    27. The Argonauts of the Air
    28. The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham
    29. In the Abyss
    30. The Apple
    31. Under the Knife
    32. The Sea-Raiders
    33. Pollock and the Porroh Man
    34. The Red Room
    35. The Cone
    36. The Purple Pileus
    37. The Jilting of Jane
    38. In the Modern Vein: An Unsympathetic Love Story
    39. A Catastrophe
    40. The Lost Inheritance
    41. The Sad Story of a Dramatic Critic
    42. A Slip Under the Microscope

    43. The Reconciliation
    44. My First Aeroplane
    45. Little Mother Up the Mörderberg
    46. The Story of the Last Trump
    47. The Grisly Folk

    48. Tales of Space and Time [1899]

    49. The Crystal Egg
    50. The Star
    51. A Story of the Stone Age
    52. A Story of the Days to Come
    53. The Man Who Could Work Miracles

    54. Twelve Stories and a Dream [1903]

    55. Filmer
    56. The Magic Shop
    57. The Valley of Spiders
    58. The Truth About Pyecraft
    59. Mr. Skelmersdale in Fairyland
    60. The Inexperienced Ghost
    61. Jimmy Goggles the God
    62. The New Accelerator
    63. Mr. Ledbetter's Vacation
    64. The Stolen Body
    65. Mr. Brisher's Treasure
    66. Miss Winchelsea's Heart
    67. A Dream of Armageddon

  55. The Complete Short Stories. Ed. John Hammmond. 1998. London: Phoenix, 1999:

      The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents [1895]

    1. The Stolen Bacillus
    2. The Flowering of the Strange Orchid
    3. In the Avu Observatory
    4. The Triumphs of a Taxidermist
    5. A Deal in Ostriches
    6. Through a Window
    7. The Temptation of Harringay
    8. The Flying Man
    9. The Diamond Maker
    10. Æpyornis Island
    11. The Remarkable Case of Davidson's Eyes
    12. The Lord of the Dynamos
    13. The Hammerpond Park Burglary
    14. The Moth
    15. The Treasure in the Forest

    16. The Plattner Story and Others [1897]

    17. The Plattner Story
    18. The Argonauts of the Air
    19. The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham
    20. In the Abyss
    21. The Apple
    22. Under the Knife
    23. The Sea-Raiders
    24. Pollock and the Porroh Man
    25. The Red Room
    26. The Cone
    27. The Purple Pileus
    28. The Jilting of Jane
    29. In the Modern Vein: An Unsympathetic Love Story
    30. A Catastrophe
    31. The Lost Inheritance
    32. The Sad Story of a Dramatic Critic
    33. A Slip Under the Microscope

    34. Tales of Space and Time [1899]

    35. The Crystal Egg
    36. The Star
    37. A Story of the Stone Age
    38. A Story of the Days to Come
    39. The Man Who Could Work Miracles

    40. Twelve Stories and a Dream [1903]

    41. Filmer
    42. The Magic Shop
    43. The Valley of Spiders
    44. The Truth About Pyecraft
    45. Mr. Skelmersdale in Fairyland
    46. The Inexperienced Ghost
    47. Jimmy Goggles the God
    48. The New Accelerator
    49. Mr. Ledbetter's Vacation
    50. The Stolen Body
    51. Mr. Brisher's Treasure
    52. Miss Winchelsea's Heart
    53. A Dream of Armageddon

    54. The Door in the Wall and Other Stories

    55. The Door in the Wall
    56. The Empire of the Ants
    57. A Vision of Judgment
    58. The Land Ironclads
    59. The Beautiful Suit
    60. The Pearl of Love
    61. The Country of the Blind
    62. The Reconciliation
    63. My First Aeroplane (Little Mother series #1)
    64. Little Mother Up the Mörderberg (Little Mother series #2)
    65. The Story of the Last Trump
    66. The Grisly Folk

    67. Uncollected Stories

    68. A Tale of the Twentieth Century: For Advanced Thinkers
    69. Walcote
    70. The Devotee of Art
    71. The Man with a Nose
    72. A Perfect Gentleman on Wheels
    73. Wayde's Essence
    74. A Misunderstood Artist
    75. Le Mari Terrible
    76. The Rajah's Treasure
    77. The Presence by the Fire
    78. Mr Marshall's Doppelganger
    79. The Thing in No. 7
    80. The Thumbmark
    81. A Family Elopement
    82. Our Little Neighbour
    83. How Gabriel Became Thompson
    84. How Pingwill Was Routed
    85. The Loyalty of Esau Common: A Fragment
    86. The Wild Asses of the Devil
    87. Answer to Prayer
    88. The Queer Story of Brownlow's Newspaper
    89. The Country of the Blind (revised version)

  56. Non-Fiction:

  57. Text-Book of Biology (1893)
  58. [with R. A. Gregory] Honours Physiography (1893)
  59. Certain Personal Matters (1897)
  60. Anticipations of the Reactions of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought (1901)
  61. Mankind in the Making (1903)
  62. The Future in America (1906)
  63. This Misery of Boots (1907)
  64. Will Socialism Destroy the Home? (1907)
  65. New Worlds for Old (1908)
  66. First and Last Things (1908)
  67. Floor Games (1911)
  68. The Great State (1912)
  69. Thoughts From H. G. Wells (1912)
  70. Little Wars (1913)
  71. The War That Will End War (1914)
  72. An Englishman Looks at the World (1914)
  73. The War and Socialism (1915)
  74. The Peace of the World (1915)
  75. What is Coming? (1916)
  76. [as 'D. P.] The Elements of Reconstruction (1916)
  77. God the Invisible King (1917)
    • The Invisible Man / The Secret Places of the Heart / God the Invisible King. 1897, 1922 & 1917. H. G. Wells Collection. London: Odhams Press Limited, [1930].
  78. War and the Future (1917)
  79. Introduction to Nocturne (1917)
  80. In the Fourth Year (1918)
  81. [with Viscount Edward Grey, Lionel Curtis, William Archer, H. Wickham Steed, A. E. Zimmern, J. A. Spender, Viscount Bryce & Gilbert Murray] The Idea of a League of Nations (1919)
  82. The Outline of History (1920)
  83. Russia in the Shadows (1920)
  84. [with Arnold Bennett & Grant Overton] Frank Swinnerton (1920)
  85. The Salvaging of Civilization (1921)
  86. A Short History of the World (1922)
    • A Short History of the World. 1922. Rev. ed. A Pelican Book. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1938.
  87. Washington and the Hope of Peace (1922)
  88. Socialism and the Scientific Motive (1923)
  89. The Story of a Great Schoolmaster: Being a Plain Account of the Life and Ideas of Sanderson of Oundle (1924)
  90. A Year of Prophesying (1925)
  91. A Short History of Mankind (1925)
  92. Mr. Belloc Objects to "The Outline of History" (1926)
  93. Wells' Social Anticipations (1927)
  94. The Way the World is Going (1928)
  95. The Book of Catherine Wells (1928)
  96. The Open Conspiracy (1928)
  97. [with Julian S. Huxley & G. P. Wells] The Science of Life (1930)
  98. Divorce as I See It (1930)
  99. Points of View (1930)
  100. The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind (1931)
  101. The New Russia (1931)
  102. Selections From the Early Prose Works of H. G. Wells (1931)
  103. What Should be Done — Now: A Memorandum on the World Situation (1932)
  104. After Democracy (1932)
  105. [with J. V. Stalin] Marxism vs Liberalism (1934)
  106. Experiment in Autobiography (1934)
    • Experiment in Autobiography: Discoveries and Conclusions of a Very Ordinary Brain (Since 1886). 1934. 2 vols. Jonathan Cape Paperback JCP 64-65. London: Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1969.
  107. The New America: The New World (1935)
  108. The Anatomy of Frustration (1936)
  109. World Brain (1938)
  110. The Fate of Homo Sapiens (1939)
  111. The New World Order (1939)
  112. Travels of a Republican Radical in Search of Hot Water (1939)
  113. The Common Sense of War and Peace (1940)
  114. The Rights of Man (1940)
  115. The Pocket History of the World (1941)
  116. Guide to the New World (1941)
  117. The Outlook for Homo Sapiens (1942)
  118. The Conquest of Time (1942)
  119. [with Lev Uspensky] Modern Russian and English Revolutionaries (1942)
  120. Phoenix: A Summary of the Inescapable Conditions of World Reorganization (1942)
  121. Crux Ansata: An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (1943)
  122. '42 to '44: A Contemporary Memoir (1944)
  123. [with J. B. S. Haldane & Julian S. Huxley] Reshaping Man's Heritage (1944)
  124. The Happy Turning (1945)
  125. Mind at the End of Its Tether (1945)
  126. Early Writings in Science and Science Fiction (1975)

  127. Secondary:

  128. Bergonzi, Bernard. The Early H. G. Wells: A Study of the Scientific Romances. Manchester, 1961.
  129. Dickson, Lovat. H. G. Wells: His Turbulent Life and Times. 1969. London: Readers Union Limited / Macmillan and Company Limited, 1971.
  130. Ray, Gordon N. H. G. Wells & Rebecca West. 1974. London: Macmillan London Limited, 1974.
  131. West, Anthony. H. G. Wells: Aspects of a Life. 1984. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985.

Anthony West: H. G. Wells: Aspects of a Life (1984)