H.G. Wells: Biography, Books & Short Stories

Instructor: Megan Pryor

Megan has tutored extensively and has a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Fiction.

In this lesson, we will learn about H.G. Wells, an English science fiction writer. First, we will delve into his life. An overview of his books and short stories will follow, and a short quiz will wrap up the lesson.


The name H.G. Wells is practically synonymous with science fiction. Wells (1866-1946) wrote over fifty novels and dozens of short stories, including some of the most famous works of the science fiction genre, such as The War of the Worlds. Although he also wrote books of romance and adventure, he is considered one of the Fathers of Science Fiction, and his writing has been a great influence on later generations of science fiction writers.

H.G. Wells During His College Days
Picture Of H.G. Wells


Family Life

Born in England in 1866 as Herbert George Wells, little Wells first discovered his passion for reading and writing when an accident at age seven left him bedridden for an extended period of time. His father, a professional cricketer, brought his son books from the local library.

Unfortunately, money was inconsistent for the Wells family, and when H.G. Wells' father was sidelined in an accident while playing cricket, little Wells found himself put to work as an apprentice. He worked for a draper and disliked it enormously. His mother also went back to work as a lady's maid. During this period of his life, H.G. Wells read everything he could from the library in the country house where his mother worked.

When being an apprentice did not work out, H.G. Wells worked as a pupil-teacher at the National School at Wookey in Somerset. That did not last long, however, and Wells was let go.


Next, H.G. Wells bounced around between various apprenticeships and other teaching positions. His teaching positions allowed him to further his own education. He eventually won a scholarship at the Normal School of Science and studied biology. His scholarship afforded him a small allowance, but he was always hungry.

Around this time, H.G. Wells started developing his political beliefs. Socialism was especially interesting to him. He founded a magazine, The Science Schools Journal, focused on literature and society. He also published his first novel, The Time Machine, while at school.


After he graduated, Wells moved in with his aunt, Mary. H.G. Wells eventually married Mary's daughter, Isabel, but they separated after only three years. H.G. Wells went on to marry one of his students, with whom he had two sons. H.G. Wells had several affairs, with the consent of his wife. Two of the affairs resulted in children.


H.G. Wells went on to write over fifty novels. Among his most famous are The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897) and The War of the Worlds (1898). He wrote from 1895 to 1941.

The Time Machine is the first time the term 'time machine' was used to describe a vehicle that allows a person to travel through time. In the novel, an English scientist and inventor builds a time machine and travels to the very far future (802,701 AD), where human society has separated into two significantly different species: the pampered Eloi and the hard-working Morlocks. The story starts off as a social critique, in which the Eloi seem to be the wealthy bourgeois class and the Morlocks the proletarians, but the novel turns into a horror story when the time traveler learns that the Morlocks are actually in charge and feed off the Eloi as if they were cattle.

The Island of Doctor Moreau is a novel about Edward Prendick, who is shipwrecked on the island of Doctor Moreau. Moreau has been experimenting on animals, often very cruelly, and creating human-like chimeras. The novel is very science heavy, but is also philosophical, since it discusses the morality of experimenting on animals, which was a hot topic in England at the time of its publication.

The Invisible Man is about a scientist named Griffin who is studying optics. He manages to turn himself invisible but cannot return himself to his former self.

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