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HG Wells and the impotence of the war-time writer

His 1916 novel "Mr Britling" is a must-read—but reminds us that contemplation has its limits

By Francine Stock  

HG Wells studying in London, taken circa 1890. Picture taken by Frederick Hollyer

The bathtub of HG Wells is not large. It sits even today in a private house in Essex, a sympathetic 18th-century residence where Wells and family spent much of the First World War. The tub is significant because it was a place for contemplation, off a room where Wells regularly worked at night. At his desk, wearing what biographer Michael Sherborne describes as a “Wellesian…

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