Although his name has faded a bit with time, the influence of H.G Wells is with us to this day. Known for such literary blockbusters as The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and The First Men in the Moon, H.G. Wells's prolific pen did more than just establish a literary form that would later be called "science fiction." The perception that he was a prophet is perhaps a bit overblown, but he was indeed very accurate on some counts. He foresaw the decisive use of tanks in modern warfare years before they were invented. He described in graphic detail the complete destruction of cities by bombing and gas from aircraft less than five years after the Wright Brothers' first flight and well before the twentieth century was even a decade old. The phrase we still associate with the First World War, "the war that will end war," was coined by him accidently as the title of his 1914 pamphlet addressing British anti-war advocates and pacifists. Also in his 1914 novel The World Set Free, Wells predicted with eerie accuracy a weapon he called an "atomic bomb."
He lived through the carnage of two world wars, and toured the front lines of the First Great War personally. His life's work was motivated by the idea of saving mankind from himself; to him it was a race between "education and catastrophe," and it still is. To this end he was a tireless educator, a self-appointed teacher for all mankind. His encyclopedic Outline of History was a literary and historical triumph and remained in print long after his death in 1946, updated even through the 1960's; in its day it sold an amount second only to the Bible. In sheer volume Wells wrote more words in his career than Dickens and Shakespeare combined.
The man H.G. Wells was as remarkable as his literature. He believed that the keys to mankind's long term survival were education and disciplined scientific progress. He was a life-long Socialist who despised Marxism, and he was a tireless proponent of women's rights. His personal friendships ranged from luminaries like Sir Winston Churchill to cultural icons like George Bernard Shaw and Henry James. His tumultuous lifestyle stood in stark contrast to the sentimental attachment he had for the suburban (but by no means privileged) Victorian environment he grew up in.
For the last forty years there has been only one organized voice in the world to remind us how much we owe to this most remarkable man. With the dawning of a new century and a new millennium, we in the H.G. Wells Society feel the time is right to begin work in America. Thus, with the approval of the Executive Committee of The H.G. Wells Society in England, I am pleased to announce the formation of an American chapter, The H.G. Wells Society, The Americas.
Our object is clear. We are 'dedicated to promoting and encouraging an active interest in, and appreciation of, the life, work and thought of H.G. Wells in the Americas.' Just as the International Society does for its membership, we shall act as a resource center and sounding board for American Wellsians as well as an official outlet for the media. For members we will publish a bi-annual newsletter and a journal, and we hope to be able to conduct weekend conferences annually beginning in 2002. We will seek to bring H.G. Wells's thoughts and works back into college curriculum and to bring back into print as many of his more neglected works as possible.
Anyone in North, South or Central America interested in joining with us to celebrate the life, work and thought of this most remarkable man is encouraged to contact myself at the address above for more information.
Charles R. Keller II
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