H. G. Wells (7/13) Bealby: A Holiday – The Seeking Of Bealby Part One



BEALBY: A HOLIDAY…..
Bealby is the comical story of the escapade of a thirteen-year-old boy when he rebels against his placement as a steward’s-room boy in the great house of an estate named Shonts (his stepfather, Mr. Darling, is a gardener there) and flees—not, however, before thoroughly upsetting a weekend party where the nouveau riche couple renting Shonts is entertaining the Lord Chancellor.

H. G. WELLS….. (September 21, 1866 – August 13, 1946)
Herbert George “H. G.” Wells was an English writer, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing textbooks and rules for war games. Wells is sometimes called “The Father of Science Fiction”, as are Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback. His most notable science fiction works include The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The Island of Doctor Moreau. Wells’s earliest specialised training was in biology, and his thinking on ethical matters took place in a specifically and fundamentally Darwinian context.

He was also from an early date an outspoken socialist, often (but not always, as at the beginning of the First World War) sympathising with pacifist views. His later works became increasingly political and didactic, and he sometimes indicated on official documents that his profession was that of “Journalist.” Most of his later novels were not science fiction. Some described lower-middle class life (Kipps; The History of Mr. Polly), leading him to be touted as a worthy successor to Charles Dickens, but Wells described a range of social strata and even attempted, in Tono-Bungay (1909), a diagnosis of English society as a whole.

Herbert George Wells was born at Atlas House, 46 High Street, Bromley, in the county of Kent, on September 21, 1866. Called “Bertie” in the family, he was the fourth and last child of Joseph Wells (a former domestic gardener, and at the time a shopkeeper and professional cricketer) and his wife Sarah Neal (a former domestic servant). An inheritance had allowed the family to acquire a shop in which they sold china and sporting goods, although it failed to prosper: the stock was old and worn out, and the location was poor. Joseph Wells managed to earn a meagre income, but little of it came from the shop and he received an unsteady amount of money from playing professional cricket for the Kent county team. Payment for skilled bowlers and batsmen came from voluntary donations afterwards, or from small payments from the clubs where matches were played. A defining incident of young Wells’s life was an accident in 1874 that left him bedridden with a broken leg.

To pass the time he started reading books from the local library, brought to him by his father. He soon became devoted to the other worlds and lives to which books gave him access; they also stimulated his desire to write. Later that year he entered Thomas Morley’s Commercial Academy, a private school founded in 1849 following the bankruptcy of Morley’s earlier school. The teaching was erratic, the curriculum mostly focused, Wells later said, on producing copperplate handwriting and doing the sort of sums useful to tradesmen. Wells continued at Morley’s Academy until 1880. In 1877, his father, Joseph Wells, fractured his thigh. The accident effectively put an end to Joseph’s career as a cricketer, and his subsequent earnings as a shopkeeper were not enough to compensate for the loss of the primary source of family income.

Wells’s first non-fiction bestseller was Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought (1901). When originally serialised in a magazine it was subtitled, “An Experiment in Prophecy”, and is considered his most explicitly futuristic work. It offered the immediate political message of the privileged sections of society continuing to bar capable men from other classes from advancement until war would force a need to employ those most able, rather than the traditional upper classes, as leaders. Anticipating what the world would be like in the year 2000, the book is interesting both for its hits (trains and cars resulting in the dispersion of population from cities to suburbs; moral restrictions declining as men and women seek greater sexual freedom; the defeat of German militarism, and the existence of a European Union) and its misses (he did not expect successful aircraft before 1950, and averred that “my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocate its crew and founder at sea”).

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