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August 02 , 2008

H.G. Wells: Another Kind of Life


When H.G. Wells left school in 1880 at thirteen he looked destined for obscurity. Defying expectations, he became one of the most famous writers in the world, remaining active into the era of the atomic bomb, which he predicted by thirty years. He created classic science-fiction tales such as The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds, reinvented the Dickensian novel in Kipps and The History of Mr Polly, pioneered postmodernism in experimental fiction and harangued his contemporaries in polemics which included two bestselling histories of the world. He brought equal energy to his outrageously promiscuous love life. A series of affairs embraced distinguished authors such as Dorothy Richardson and Rebecca West, the gun-toting travel writer Odette Keun and Russian spy Moura Budberg. Until his death in 1946 Wells had artistic and ideological confrontations with everyone from Henry James to George Orwell, from Churchill to Stalin. He remains a controversial figure, attacked by some as a philistine, sexist and racist, praised by others as a great writer, a prophet of globalization and a pioneer of human rights. Renowned Wells scholar Michael Sherborne sets the record straight in this authoritative biography. It is the first full-scale account to include material from the long-suppressed skeleton correspondence with his mistresses and illegitimate daughter. Wells's life is a great story in its own right. Here it is retold from a 21st-century perspective, making it accessible and fascinating to general readers and English literature specialists alike.
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