The Young H.G. Wells: Changing the World

Claire Tomalin. Penguin Press, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-9848-7902-8
Tomalin (A Life of My Own) focuses on H.G. Wells’s early years and how that period defined his interests and career in this solid biography. She details how Wells overcame such “insurmountable obstacles” as childhood poverty, poor access to education, and chronic ill health: through his life, Wells sought “happiness in sunshine, fresh air, and open spaces” in a stalwart effort to overcome the dreary darkness of his youth. Tomalin digs into his work, as well: Wells’s first book was not fiction, readers will learn—it was an 1893 science textbook. Later fictions drew on his interest in the sciences, culminating with the celebrated The Time Machine (1895) followed by The War of the Worlds (1898), which critics praised for its ability to strike readers “as realism.” Tomalin dials in primarily on Wells’s rigorous process and “extraordinary” productivity that moved him toward international recognition; at one point, he had four different English publishers while juggling short stories, novels, and essays. A large cast of literary friends and political relationships add color, including Beatrice Potter Webb, Winston Churchill, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, and Stephen Crane, among others. Well-researched and matter-of-fact, Tomalin’s account is worth a look for literature lovers. Agent: David Goodwin, David Godwin Assoc. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/27/2021
Release date: 10/26/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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