H.G. [Herbert George] Wells (1866-1946) novelist and social commentator.

Acclaimed as a scientific and social prophet, Herbert George Wells was a prolific novelist famous primarily for science fiction but also for comic realism. After a brief apprenticeship to a draper, Wells became a student-teacher, eventually winning a scholarship to the Normal School of Science (later Imperial College) where his studies under the great zoologist T H Huxley inspired his science fiction writing.

In 1895 The Time was the first of his hugely popular works which foresaw the splitting of the atom, travel to the moon and aerial warfare. The book telling the story of an English scientist who develops a time travel machine.

Some of Wells’ most famous works published were, The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897) and The War of the Worlds (1898). ‘The War of the Worlds’ (1898) is probably one of my favourite works of science fiction. Few people know that the story was written whist he was in Molesey and the book contains many references to many places in Elmbridge – Weybridge, St George’s Hill, Painshill, Esher and Ditton.

Chapter Twelve is a particularly local read, the chapter is called, ‘What I saw in the destruction of Weybridge and Shepperton’:

For roughly 50 years, Wells devoted his life to writing and his output during this time was amazing. Some even criticized Wells for his tremendous volume of work, saying that he spread his talent too thin. Wells wrote, on average, three books a year for a time. And each of his works went through several drafts before publication.

Wells remained productive until the very end of his life, but his attitude seemed to darken in his final days. Among his last works was 1945’s “Mind at the End of Its Tether,” a pessimistic essay in which Wells contemplates the end of humanity. Some critics speculated that Wells’s declining health shaped this prediction of a future without hope. He died on August 13, 1946, in London.

Several of his works have returned to the big screen in recent years. A remake of War of the Worlds (2005) featured Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning as two of the humans fighting to survive the alien invasion.