Sunday 22 January 2017

Science, sex and the scandalous HG Wells

As well as a writer and a thinker, HG Wells, born 150 years ago this year, was also a tireless practitioner of 'free love', writes Tim Martin

Tim Martin

Published 07/02/2016 | 02:30

Forward-thinking: Sci-fi author HG Wells was ahead of his time in more ways than one
Forward-thinking: Sci-fi author HG Wells was ahead of his time in more ways than one

I have done what I pleased," HG Wells once wrote, "so that every bit of sexual impulse in me has expressed itself. I am a very immoral person. I have preyed on people who loved me."

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This may shock readers who think of Wells as a science-fiction guru, the author of such influential work as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds. Yet Wells was a man ahead of his time in more ways than one. Living in an age of sexual propriety, he had a fondness for extramarital affairs which, even to modern eyes, seems startling.

We will see a lot of Wells in 2016. One-hundred-and-fifty years after his birth and 70 years after his death, his work still resonates. Sky Arts is currently screening a series of dramas based on his short stories. Next month, the theatrical extravaganza The War of the Worlds, starring David Essex, lands in London's West End. But what was the man with such a vivid, tireless imagination really like?

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