- Author: H. Wells
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oxford world’s classicsThe First Men in the Moon
H. G. Wells (1866–1946) was born to lower middle-class parents in straitened circumstances in the London suburb of Bromley. He was apprenticed to a draper, a position he loathed, but won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science in Kensington, which had been recently established under the leadership of the eminent biologist T. H. Huxley. There he was trained to be amongst the first generation of school science teachers. He did not complete his degree, but did begin to write and edit a student journal. His brief career as a teacher was ended by illness, and he turned to science journalism and reviewing professionally. He finally published The Time Machine as his first book in 1895. This ‘scientific romance’ was enthusiastically received by leading critics and editors and Wells began a whirlwind writing career, often writing several books a year. By 1901 he had completed several of his most famous scientific romances, including The Island of Dr Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), and The First Men in the Moon (1901).
After his non-fiction speculations on the year 2000, Anticipations (1901), Wells became a leading social and political commentator. He wrote utopias, comic novels of lower middle-class life, and ‘problem novels’, often on controversial subjects, such as sexual freedom for women in Ann Veronica (1909). He was associated with the liberal-left Fabian Society, although scandalized respectable society with a string of affairs. He also alienated many literary figures, quarrelling with Henry James over the purpose of fiction. Modernists like Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster despised his work and often defined their new style against his. Yet with An Outline of History (1919), his epic and controversial history of the world, Wells became a truly global figure. After the Great War, he campaigned for world government and in the 1930s visited both American and Soviet leaders to press for peaceful solutions. He lived long enough to see the atomic bomb, something he accurately predicted in The World Set Free (1914), used on Japan. One of his last books was called Mind at the End of Its Tether (1945).
Simon J. James is Professor of Victorian Literature and Head of the Department of English Studies at Durham University. He is the author of Maps of Utopia: H. G. Wells, Modernity and the End of Culture (2012) and Unsettled Accounts: Money and Narrative in the Novels of George Gissing (2003). He has also written on Charles Dickens, Evelyn Waugh, and literary criticism.
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OXFORD WORLD’S CLASSICS
H. G. WellsThe First Men in the Moon
Edited with an Introduction and Notes by
Simon J. James
Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, ox2 6DP United Kingdom
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Introduction, Note on the Text, Select Bibliography, Explanatory Notes © Simon J. James 2017
Chronology © Roger Luckhurst 2017
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First published as an Oxford World’s Classics paperback 2017
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I am very grateful to Marten Stromberg, Dennis Sears, Professor Valerie Hotchkiss, and all the staff at the Rare Books and Manuscript Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for the opportunity to speak at an exhibition on representations of life on the moon, and to consult the manuscript drafts of The First Men in the Moon. Thank you also to the staff of the British Library, the National University of Scotland, and Palace Green Library at Durham University. The Introduction has very much gained from the learned and judicious comments of Luciana O’Flaherty at Oxford World’s Classics, and Dr Steven McLean; I am indebted to previous editorial work and annotations in editions produced by Professor Patrick Parrinder, Dr Steven McLean, and Dr David Lake. I am profoundly grateful to Charles Blair, whose tireless work on the manuscript has very much informed my own thinking in preparing this present edition, and who generously shared with me the records of his own transcription. I am also very grateful to members of the H. G. Wells Society for supplying