On September 21, 1866, H.G. Wells was born in London, England. The son of a professional cricketer and a former domestic servant, Wells experienced humble beginnings before going on to build a rather illustrious writing career.
1. Wells is known as the father of Science Fiction
H.G. Wells was once called the Shakespeare of Science Fiction, a title he always shied away from. More commonly, we know him as the father of Futurism or the father of Science Fiction — the latter a title which he shared with fellow great Jules Verne. It's not hard to see why he was, and still is, considered to be such a trailblazer. Through his writing he provided eerily accurate predictions for the future, helped to pave the way for many prolific sci-fi writers, and managed to stay incredibly relevant more than 70 years after his death!
2. Wells was a bit of a revolutionary
It wasn't just H.G. Wells' work that was futuristic, Wells himself had some rather radical personal views for the time he lived in. He was a socialist and a big supporter of women's emancipation — points of views which could be looked at as quite extreme in the 19th and early 20th centuries. He also had a habit of incorporating these political views into his books. The Time Machine can be viewed as a socialist commentary where the Morlocks represent the working class who literally live beneath the aristocratic Eloi. In The War of the Worlds, the clash between humans and Martians mirrors Wells' own criticism of colonialism and Empire.
3. He inspired space travel and innovation
Robert H. Goddard was an American engineer, physicist and inventor who is credited with building the first liquid-fuel rocket. He successfully launched his rocket in March 1926 and forever left his mark on history. What followed was an era of innovation and space travel which eventually led to the first moon landing. Care to take a guess at one of Goddard's great sources of inspiration? That's right, H.G. Wells! As a sickly teenager Goddard spent two years bedridden and unable to attend school. He used this time to do some reading and picked up Wells' The War of the Worlds. It was this book which inspired him to pursue his dream of space travel.
4. The Time Machine launched Wells' career as a famous author
Prior to starting his writing career in his late twenties, H.G. Wells held down a variety of different jobs. He worked as a draper, a newspaper writer and a teacher before he hit it big with the publishing of The Time Machine in 1895. The novel was an almost instant success and launched him into literary greatness. Wells was responsible for introducing the phrase 'time machine' into the English language, and the concept behind these two words captured the public's imagination in a unique and compelling way. Wells quickly followed up The Time Machine with The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897) and, arguably his most popular book, The War of the Worlds (1898).
5. Wells predicted the first atomic bomb
In 1914 H.G. Wells published a novel titled The World Set Free. In this book he described a weapon that was eerily similar to the first atomic bomb unleashed on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Wells imagined a uranium-based hand grenade which could be dropped from planes and would "explode indefinitely." In fact, Hungarian-American physicist Leo Szilard read The World Set Free and later wrote that it was H.G. Wells who showed him the potential power of such atomic energy. Szilard went on to become a key component in the creation of the Manhattan Project which built the first atomic bomb.
Check out our The War of the Worlds print created using the entire text of H.G. Wells' popular novel! Which book or story by H.G. Wells would you like to see made into a poster?
Share your favorites in the comments below!