The H.G. Wells Society was founded by Dr. John Hammond in 1960. It has an international membership, and aims to promote a widespread interest in the life, work and thought of Herbert George Wells. The society publishes a peer-reviewed annual journal, The Wellsian, and issues a biannual newsletter. It has published a comprehensive bibliography of Wells’s published works, and other publications, including a number of works by Wells which have been out of print for many years.
The Society organises a weekend conference each year where aspects of Wells’s life and work are discussed in a congenial atmosphere.
Topics discussed in recent years have included:
- The Short Stories of H.G. Wells
- Publishing and Publicising Wells
- Wells’s Literary Friendships
- The War of the Worlds (The proceedings of this conference appear in Foundation 77)
- Wells and his Critics
- Literature at War: H.G. Wells, Ford Madox Ford and Their Contemporaries
- When the Lights Went Out: H.G. Wells and His World on the Eve of the War
- Anticipations: H.G. Wells, Science Fiction and Radical Visions
In addition, the Society has organised two major international conferences. The first, under the title, H.G. Wells under Revision, was held in 1986 to mark the 40th anniversary of Wells’s death; the second, The Time Machine: Past, Present and Future was held in 1995 to mark the centenary of the publication of Wells’s first scientific romance.
Society Founder: Dr. John Hammond, President: Professor Patrick Parrinder, Vice-Presidents: Dr. Stephen Baxter, Dr. Sylvia Hardy, Professor David Lodge, Professor Bernard Loing, Christopher Priest, Dr. Michael Sherborne, Professor Dominic Wells, Professor Adam Roberts.
Chairperson – Dr. Emelyne Godfrey
Secretary – Brian Jukes
Treasurer – Eric Jukes
Editor of The Wellsian – Dr. Maxim Shadurski
Editor of the Newsletter Editor – Dr. Harry Wood
Membership, Publications, Distribution & Sales: Brian & Eric Jukes
Webmaster – Charles Keller
SOCIETY NEWS AND EVENTS
2020 Conference Postponed
In collaboration with the Imperial and World History Seminar, University of London, we are pleased to announce a one-day conference to mark the centenary of H. G. Wells’s Outline of History:
GLOBAL HISTORY THEN AND NOW
Institute of Historical Research, London
Keynote Speakers: Prof. Sarah Cole, Columbia University, author of Inventing Tomorrow
Prof. Richard Drayton, King’s College, London, author of Masks of Empire
‘There can be no common peace and prosperity without common historical ideas.’ H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells believed that a general account of the human story was ‘a necessary part of any properly conceived education’, yet he wrote his bestselling Outline of History at the end of the First World War because, as he claimed, nobody else was willing to do so. Although there are now hundreds of works offering (with varying degrees of success) to do what Wells once did, the possibility of reaching the global consensus of which he dreamed is under threat as never before. The public understanding of history, as revealed in political debates in Britain and elsewhere, is often as prejudiced and blinkered as it was in Wells’s youth.
Wells’s concern with universal history may be traced back to the biology teaching of T. H. Huxley. The result was a scientifically and anthropologically based narrative in which so-called prehistory is an important and even a dominant part of the human story. In the Outline and in his Short History of the World (1922) Wells aimed to write in a manner that would be acceptable to all countries and faiths, but his commitment to evolutionary science led to controversy around topics such as religion and creation. He acknowledged that history must be ideologically based, since ‘You cannot stand on nothing and hold up a world’.
Booking and other information coming soon!
- Check out Rex Parker’s recent talk on Frederick Goudy’s Time Traveler’s Typeface used for H.G. Wells’ The Door in the Wall, at the H.G. Wells Archive on November 15, 2019 at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.
- Now available: The Nationality of Utopia: H. G. Wells, England, and the World State, by Maxim Shadurski, published by Routledge.
‘Since its generic inception in 1516, utopia has produced visions of alterity which renegotiate, subvert, and transcend existing places. Early in the twentieth century, H. G. Wells linked utopia to the World State, whose post-national, post-Westphalian emergence he predicated on English national discourse. This critical study examines how the discursive representations of England’s geography, continuity, and character become foundational to the Wellsian utopia and elicit competing response from Wells’s contemporaries, particularly Robert Hugh Benson and Aldous Huxley, with further ramifications throughout the twentieth century. Contextualized alongside modern theories of nationalism and utopia, as well as read jointly with contemporary projections of England as place, reactions to Wells demonstrate a shift from disavowal to retrieval of England, on the one hand, and from endorsement to rejection of the World State, on the other. Following Huxley’s attempts to salvage the residual traces of English culture from their abuses in the World State, the prospect of England’s dissolution takes increasing precedence over the visions of post-national order and dissents from the Wellsian utopia. This trend continues in the work of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, J. G. Ballard, and Julian Barnes, whose future scenarios warn against a world without England. The Nationality of Utopia investigates utopia’s capacity to deconstruct and redeploy national discourse in ways that surpass fear and nostalgia.’ Click Here for More Information
- Now Available: Utopias and Dystopias in the Fiction of H. G. Wells and William Morris, edited by Emelyne Godfrey, with contributions by Michael Sherborne and Patrick Parrinder. Click the link for more information.
- Now Available: The War of the Wheels: H.G. Wells and the Bicycle, by Jeremy Withers, published by Syracuse University Press. Notes from the publisher:
- Amid apocalyptic invasions and time travel, one common machine continually appears in H. G. Wells’s works: the bicycle. From his scientific romances and social comedies to utopias, futurological speculations, and letters, Wells’s texts brim with bicycles. In The War of the Wheels, Withers examines this mode of transportation as both something that played a significant role in Wells’s personal life and as a literary device for creating elaborate characters and exploring complex themes. Withers traces Wells’s ambivalent relationship with the bicycle throughout his writing. Moving into the twenty-first century, Withers reflects on how the works of H. G. Wells can serve as a valuable locus for thinking through many of our current issues and problems related to transportation, mobility, and sustainability.
- Now available: Utopian Literature and Science: From the Scientific Revolution to Brave New World and Beyond by Patrick Parrinder (Palgrave Macmillan): “Scientific progress is usually seen as a precondition of modern utopias, but science and utopia are frequently at odds. Utopian Literature and Science traces the interactions of sciences such as astronomy, microscopy, genetics and anthropology with 19th- and 20th-century utopian and dystopian writing and modern science fiction. Ranging from Galileo’s observations with the telescope to current ideas of the post-human and the human-animal boundary, the author’s re-examination of key literary texts brings a fresh perspective to the paradoxes of utopian thinking since Plato. This book is essential reading for teachers and students of literature and science studies, utopian studies, and science fiction studies, as well as students of 19th and early 20th-century literature more generally.” Click here to order.
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