H. G. Wells

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The past is but the beginning of a beginning, and all that is or has been is but the twilight of the dawn.

Herbert George Wells (September 21 1866August 13 1946) was a British writer most famous for his science fiction novels such as The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man and The Time Machine; also for Kipps, The History of Mr. Polly and other social satires.

See also:
The Time Machine (1895)
The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth (1904)
In the Days of the Comet (1906)
The Outline of History (1920)
World Brain (1938)


We were making the future … and hardly any of us troubled to think what future we were making. And here it is!
Money and credit are as much human contrivances as bicycles, and as liable to expansion and modification as any other sort of prevalent but imperfect machine.
Great and little cannot understand one another. But in every child born of man, Father Redwood, lurks some seed of greatness — waiting for the Food.
Phase by phase these ill-adapted governments are becoming uncontrolled absolutisms; they are killing that free play of the individual mind which is the preservative of human efficiency and happiness.
  • And here one may note a curious comparison which can be made between this [ascidian] life-history and that of many a respectable pinnacle and gargoyle on the social fabric. Every respectable citizen of the professional classes passes through a period of activity and imagination, of "liveliness and eccentricity," of "Sturm und Drang." He shocks his aunts. Presently, however, he realizes the sober aspect of things. He becomes dull; he enters a profession; suckers appear on his head; and he studies. Finally, by virtue of these he settles down—he marries. All his wild ambitions and subtle æsthetic perceptions atrophy as needless in the presence of calm domesticity. He secretes a house, or "establishment," round himself, of inorganic and servile material. His Bohemian tail is discarded. Henceforth his life is a passive receptivity to what chance and the drift of his profession bring along; he lives an almost entirely vegetative excrescence on the side of a street, and in the tranquillity of his calling finds that colourless contentment that replaces happiness.
  • How small the vastest of human catastrophes may seem at a distance of a few million miles.
  • "We were making the future," he said, "and hardly any of us troubled to think what future we were making. And here it is!"
  • If it is proper to ’reconstitute’ a Jewish State which has not existed for two thousand years, why not go back another thousand years end reconstitute the Canaanite state? The Canaanites, unlike the Jews, are still there.
    • H.G.Wells, Palestine Dilemma, Frank C. Sakran, p.204
  • "Now I am prepared to maintain," said Chaffery, proceeding with his proposition, "that Honesty is essentially an anarchistic and disintegrating force in society, that communities are held together and the progress of civilisation made possible only by vigorous and sometimes even violent Lying; that the Social Contract is nothing more or less than a vast conspiracy of human beings to lie to and humbug themselves and one another for the general Good. Lies are the mortar that bind the savage individual man into the social masonry … Were I not of a profoundly indolent, restless, adventurous nature, and horribly averse to writing, I would make a great book of this and live honored by every profound duffer in the world."
  • The past is but the beginning of a beginning, and all that is or has been is but the twilight of the dawn.
    • The Discovery of the Future (1901)
  • Money and credit are as much human contrivances as bicycles, and as liable to expansion and modification as any other sort of prevalent but imperfect machine.
    And how will the new republic treat the inferior races? How will it deal with the black? how will it deal with the yellow man? how will it tackle that alleged termite in the civilized woodwork, the Jew? Certainly not as races at all. It will aim to establish, and it will at last, though probably only after a second century has passed, establish a world state with a common language and a common rule. All over the world its roads, its standards, its laws, and its apparatus of control will run. It will, I have said, make the multiplication of those who fall behind a certain standard of social efficiency unpleasant and difficult... The Jew will probably lose much of his particularism, intermarry with Gentiles, and cease to be a physically distinct element in human affairs in a century or so. But much of his moral tradition will, I hope, never die. ... And for the rest, those swarms of black, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people, who do not come into the new needs of efficiency?
    Well, the world is a world, not a charitable institution, and I take it they will have to go.The whole tenor and meaning of the world, as I see it, is that they have to go. So far as they fail to develop sane, vigorous, and distinctive personalities for the great world of the future, it is their portion to die out and disappear.
    The world has a greater purpose than happiness; our lives are to serve God's purpose, and that purpose aims not at man as an end, but works through him to greater issues.
  • They may fight against greatness in us who are the children of men, but can they conquer? Even if they should destroy us every one, what then? Would it save them? No! For greatness is abroad, not only in us, not only in the Food, but in the purpose of all things! It is in the nature of all things, it is part of space and time. To grow and still to grow, from first to last that is Being, that is the law of life. What other law can there be?
    • The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth (1904)
  • Whatever America has to show in heroic living to-day, I doubt if she can show any thing finer than the quality of the resolve, the steadfast effort hundreds of black and coloured men are making to-day to live blamelessly, honourably, and patiently, getting for themselves what scraps of refinement, learning, and beauty they may, keeping their hold on a civilization they are grudged and denied.
  • The third peculiarity of aerial warfare was that it was at once enormously destructive and entirely indecisive.
  • And in the air are no streets, no channels, no point where one can say of an antagonist, "If he wants to reach my capital he must come by here." In the air all directions lead everywhere.
  • Nothing could have been more obvious to the people of the early twentieth century than the rapidity with which war was becoming impossible. And as certainly they did not see it. They did not see it until the atomic bombs burst in their fumbling hands.
  • The catastrophe of the atomic bombs which shook men out of cities and businesses and economic relations, shook them also out of their old-established habits of thought, and out of the lightly held beliefs and prejudices that came down to them from the past.
    • The World Set Free
  • Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo. It is the peculiar snare of the perplexed orthodox, and soon Mr. Brumley was in a state of nearly unendurable moral indignation with Sir Isaac for a hundred exaggerations of what he was and of what conceivably he might have done to his silent yet manifestly unsuitably married wife.
    • The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman (1914), p. 299
  • This Prussian Imperialism has been for forty years an intolerable nuisance in the earth. Ever since the crushing of the French in 1871 the evil thing has grown and cast its spreading shadow over Europe. Germany has preached a propaganda of ruthless force and political materialism to the whole uneasy world. “Blood and iron,” she boasted, was the cement of her unity, and almost as openly the little, mean, aggressive statesmen and professors who have guided her destinies to this present conflict have professed cynicism and an utter disregard of any ends but nationally selfish ends, as though it were religion. Evil just as much as good may be made into a Cant. Physical and moral brutality has indeed become a cant in the German mind, and spread from Germany throughout the world. I could wish it were possible to say that English and American thought had altogether escaped its corruption. But now at last we shake ourselves free and turn upon this boasting wickedness to rid the world of it. The whole world is tired of it. And “Gott!”—Gott so perpetually invoked—Gott indeed must be very tired of it.
    • ‘Why Britain Went to War’, The War Illustrated (10 August 1914), quoted in The War Illustrated Album de Luxe; The Story of the Great European War told by Camera, Pen and Pencil, ed. J. A. Hammerton (1915), p. 10
  • The uglier a man's legs are, the better he plays golf. It's almost a law.
    • Bealby: A Holiday (1915)
  • I hate and despise a shrewish suspicion of foreigners and foreign ways; a man who can look me in the face, laugh with me, speak truth and deal fairly, is my brother, though his skin is as black as ink or as yellow as an evening primrose.
    • What is Coming? (1916)
  • The age of ‘expansion,’ the age of European "empires" is near its end. No one who can read the signs of the times in Japan, in India, in China, can doubt it. It ended in America a hundred years ago; it is ending now in Asia; it will end last in Africa, and even in Africa the end draws near.
    • What is Coming? (1916)
  • He was inordinately proud of England, and he abused her incessantly.
    • Mr. Britling Sees It Through, Bk. 1, ch. 2, sect. 2 (1916)
  • Since the passing of Victoria the Great there had been an accumulating uneasiness in the national life. It was as if some compact and dignified paper-weight had been lifted from people's ideas, and as if at once they had begun to blow about anyhow.
    • The Soul of a Bishop (1917)
  • Humanity either makes, or breeds, or tolerates all its afflictions, great or small.
    • Joan and Peter: The Story of an Education (1918)
  • We want a common law for Africa, a general Declaration of Rights, of certain elementary rights, and we want a common authority to which the black man and the native tribe may appeal for justice.
    • In The Fourth Year (1918)
  • A time will come when a politician who has willfully made war and promoted international dissension will be as sure of the dock and much surer of the noose than a private homicide. It is not reasonable that those who gamble with men's lives should not stake their own.
    • The Salvaging of Civilization (1921)
  • On the supposition that the world is to go on divided among aggressive sovereign states, with phases of war preparation known as peace and acute phases of more and more destructive war, it is quite a good move in the game. On the supposition that the world is growing up to an age of reason, and that a world of civilisation is attainable, it is a monstrous crime.
    • On the British government's decision to build the Singapore Naval Base, in an article for the Westminster Gazette (13 October 1923)
  • The Baldwin government...has carried its support of the aggressive and reactionary Mussolini dictatorship to a pitch which amounts to a virtual betrayal of both France and the republican régime in Germany.
    • The Way the World is Going, (1928)
  • An artist who theorizes about his work is no longer artist but critic.
    • The Temptaion of Harringay (1929)
  • In England we have come to rely upon a comfortable time lag of fifty years or a century intervening between the perception that something ought to be done and a serious attempt to do it.
    • The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind, Ch. 11 (1931)
  • If I am something of a social leveller, it is not because I want to give silly people a good time, but because I want to make opportunity universal, and not leave out one single being who is worth while.
    • "What I Believe", The Listener, 1929. Quoted in Clifton Fadiman, I Believe, London, George Allen and Unwin, 1940.
  • How far can we anticipate the habitations and ways, the usages and adventures, the mighty employments, the ever increasing knowledge and power of the days to come? No more than a child with its scribbling paper and its box of bricks can picture or model the undertakings of its adult years. Our battle is with cruelties and frustrations, stupid, heavy and hateful things from which we shall escape at last, less like victors conquering a world than like sleepers awaking from a nightmare in the dawn.... A time will come when men will sit with history before them or with some old newspaper before them and ask incredulously,"Was there ever such a world?"
    • The Open Conspiracy (1933)
  • The authorities in Soviet Russia seem as timorous about subversive propaganda as Conservative old ladies in England. Russia is still a fastness of orthodoxy, even if the guardianship of orthodoxy has changed hands.
    • “Stalin-Wells Talk: The Verbatim Report and A Discussion”, G.B. Shaw, J.M. Keynes et al., London, The New Statesman and Nation, (1934) p. 19
  • The effects of the ideas of Roosevelt's ‘new deal’ is most powerful, and in my opinion they are socialist ideas
    • Stalin-Wells Talk: The Verbatim Report and A Discussion, G.B. Shaw, J.M. Keynes et al., London, The New Statesman and Nation, (1934) p. 5
  • I do not deny that force has to be used, but I think the forms of the struggle should fit as closely as possible to the opportunities presented by the existing laws, which must be defended against reactionary attacks. There is no need to disorganise the old system, because it is disorganising itself enough as it is. That is why it seems to me insurrection against the old orders, against the law, is obsolete, old-fashioned.
    • “Stalin-Wells Talk: The Verbatim Report and A Discussion”, G.B. Shaw, J.M. Keynes et al., London, The New Statesman and Nation, (1934) p. 15
  • I confess that I approached Stalin with a certain amount of suspicion and prejudice. A picture had been built up in my mind of a very reserved and self-centred fanatic, a despot without vices, a jealous monopolizer of power. [...] I still expected to meet a ruthless, hard—possibly doctrinaire—and self-sufficient man at Moscow; a Georgian highlander whose spirit had never completely emerged from its native mountain glen. Yet I had had to recognize that under him Russia was not being merely tyrannized over and held down; it was being governed and it was getting on. [...] All such shadowy undertow, all suspicion of hidden emotional tensions, ceased for ever, after I had talked to him for a few minutes. [...] I have never met a man more candid, fair and honest, and to these qualities it is, and to nothing occult and sinister, that he owes his tremendous undisputed ascendency in Russia.
  • I am more to the Left than you, Mr. Stalin.
    • “It seems to me that I am more to the Left than you, Mr. Stalin,” New Statesman (Oct. 27, 1934)
  • When the history of our civilization is written, it will be a biological history and Margaret Sanger will be its heroine.
    • 1935 speech at Barber's Hall, London, included in Round the World for Birth Control (1937) edited by the Birth Control International Information Centre
  • If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.
    • The Anatomy of Frustration (1936)
  • Marguerite, joyfully: “We are ourselves, my dear, we are ourselves. We'll never be anyone else.”
    • The New Faust (in Nash's Pall Magazine, December 1936 – adaptation of "The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham")
  • We are living in 1937, and our universities, I suggest, are not half-way out of the fifteenth century. We have made hardly any changes in our conception of university organization, education, graduation, for a century - for several centuries. The three or four years' course of lectures, the bachelor who knows some, the master who knows most, the doctor who knows all, are ideas that have come down unimpaired from the Middle Ages. Nowadays no one should end his learning while he lives and these university degrees are preposterous. It is true that we have multiplied universities greatly in the past hundred years, but we seem to have multiplied them altogether too much upon the old pattern. . [A] new university is just another imitation of all the old universities that have ever been. Educationally we are still for all practical purposes in the coach and horse and galley stage.
  • The New Deal is plainly an attempt to achieve a working socialism and avert a social collapse in America; it is extraordinarily parallel to the successive "policies" and "Plans" of the Russian experiment. Americans shirk the word "socialism", but what else can one call it?
  • Mankind which began in a cave and behind a windbreak will end in the disease-soaked ruins of a slum.
    • The Fate of Man, ch. 26 (1939)
  • The crisis of yesterday is the joke of to-morrow.
    • You Can't be Too Careful (1941)
  • These are the rights of all human beings. They are yours wherever you are. Demand that your rulers and politicians sign and observe this declaration. If they refuse, if they quibble, they can have no place in the new free world that dawns upon mankind.
    • The Rights of the World Citizen (1942); a revised edition of The Rights of Man
  • I have remarked, in the course of such air travel as I have done, that the airmen of all nations have a common resemblance to each other and that the patriotic virus in their blood is largely corrected by a wider professionalism.
    • The Outlook for Homo Sapiens (1942)
  • Heresies are experiments in man's unsatisfied search for truth.
    • Crux Ansata: An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (1943)
  • [The Jesuits'] work had to be propaganda; teaching and the insinuation by every possible means of the authority and policy of the Church.... Unfortunately for the world the Jesuits have never been able to keep clear of politics. It was against their written professions, if these are to be taken seriously, but it was manifestly among their inevitable temptations. They had their share, direct and indirect, in embroiling states, concocting conspiracies and kindling wars.... We need not expand this indictment further. Almost every country in Europe except England had at one time or another been provoked to expel the Jesuits, and ... their obdurate persistence in evil-doing continues to this day.
    • Crux Ansata: An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (1943)
  • If his thinking has been sound, then this world is at the end of its tether. The end of everything we call life is close at hand and cannot be evaded.
    • The Mind at the End of its Tether (1945), p. 1
  • Adapt or perish, now as ever, is Nature's inexorable imperative.
    • The Mind at the End of its Tether (1945), p. 19
  • There comes a moment in the day when you have written your pages in the morning, attended to your correspondence in the afternoon, and have nothing further to do. Then comes that hour when you are bored; that's the time for sex.
    • Quoted in Charlie Chaplin, My Autobiography (1964)

Online text
  • These creatures you have seen are animals carven and wrought into new shapes. To that, to the study of the plasticity of living forms, my life has been devoted. I have studied for years, gaining in knowledge as I go. I see you look horrified, and yet I am telling you nothing new. It all lay in the surface of practical anatomy years ago, but no one had the temerity to touch it.
    • Ch. 14: Doctor Moreau Explains
  • "But," said I, "these things—these animals talk!"

    He said that was so, and proceeded to point out that the possibility of vivisection does not stop at a mere physical metamorphosis. A pig may be educated. The mental structure is even less determinate than the bodily. In our growing science of hypnotism we find the promise of a possibility of superseding old inherent instincts by new suggestions, grafting upon or replacing the inherited fixed ideas. Very much indeed of what we call moral education, he said, is such an artificial modification and perversion of instinct; pugnacity is trained into courageous self-sacrifice, and suppressed sexuality into religious emotion.

    • Ch. 14: Doctor Moreau Explains
  • So long as visible or audible pain turns you sick; so long as your own pains drive you; so long as pain underlies your propositions about sin, — so long, I tell you, you are an animal, thinking a little less obscurely what an animal feels.
    • Ch. 14: Doctor Moreau Explains
  • Then I am a religious man, Prendick, as every sane man must be. It may be, I fancy, that I have seen more of the ways of this world's Maker than you — for I have sought his laws, in my way, all my life, while you, I understand, have been collecting butterflies. And I tell you, pleasure and pain have nothing to do with heaven or hell. Pleasure and pain — bah! What is your theologian's ecstasy but Mahomet's houri in the dark? This store which men and women set on pleasure and pain, Prendick, is the mark of the beast upon them, the mark of the beast from which they came! Pain, pain and pleasure, they are for us only so long as we wriggle in the dust.
    • Ch. 14: Doctor Moreau Explains
  • You see, I went on with this research just the way it led me. That is the only way I ever heard of true research going. I asked a question, devised some method of obtaining an answer, and got — a fresh question. Was this possible or that possible? You cannot imagine what this means to an investigator, what an intellectual passion grows upon him! You cannot imagine the strange, colourless delight of these intellectual desires!
    • Ch. 14: Doctor Moreau Explains
  • To this day I have never troubled about the ethics of the matter. The study of Nature makes a man at last as remorseless as Nature.
    • Ch. 14: Doctor Moreau Explains
  • These creatures of mine seemed strange and uncanny to you so soon as you began to observe them; but to me, just after I make them, they seem to be indisputably human beings. It's afterwards, as I observe them, that the persuasion fades. First one animal trait, then another, creeps to the surface and stares out at me. But I will conquer yet! Each time I dip a living creature into the bath of burning pain, I say: 'This time I will burn out all the animal; this time I will make a rational creature of my own!' After all, what is ten years? Men have been a hundred thousand in the making.
    • Ch. 14: Doctor Moreau Explains
  • There is a kind of travesty of humanity over there. Montgomery knows about it, for he interferes in their affairs. He has trained one or two of them to our service. He's ashamed of it, but I believe he half likes some of those beasts. It's his business, not mine. They only sicken me with a sense of failure. I take no interest in them. I fancy they follow in the lines the Kanaka missionary marked out, and have a kind of mockery of a rational life, poor beasts! There's something they call the Law. Sing hymns about ‘all thine.’ They build themselves their dens, gather fruit, and pull herbs — marry even. But I can see through it all, see into their very souls, and see there nothing but the souls of beasts, beasts that perish, anger and the lusts to live and gratify themselves. — Yet they're odd; complex, like everything else alive. There is a kind of upward striving in them, part vanity, part waste sexual emotion, part waste curiosity. It only mocks me.
    • Ch. 14: Doctor Moreau Explains
  • That these man-like creatures were in truth only bestial monsters, mere grotesque travesties of men, filled me with a vague uncertainty of their possibilities which was far worse than any definite fear.
    • Ch. 15: Concerning the Beast Folk
  • Most striking, perhaps, in their general appearance was the disproportion between the legs of these creatures and the length of their bodies; and yet — so relative is our idea of grace — my eye became habituated to their forms, and at last I even fell in with their persuasion that my own long thighs were ungainly.
    • Ch. 15: Concerning the Beast Folk
  • I say I became habituated to the Beast People, that a thousand things which had seemed unnatural and repulsive speedily became natural and ordinary to me. I suppose everything in existence takes its colour from the average hue of our surroundings. Montgomery and Moreau were too peculiar and individual to keep my general impressions of humanity well defined. I would see one of the clumsy bovine-creatures who worked the launch, treading heavily through the undergrowth, and find myself asking, trying hard to recall, how he differed from some really human yokel trudging home from his mechanical labours; or I would meet the Fox-Bear Woman's vulpine, shifty face, strangely human in its speculative cunning, and even imagine I had met it before in some city byway.
    • Ch. 15: Concerning the Beast Folk
  • A strange persuasion came upon me that, save for the grossness of the line, the grotesqueness of the forms, I had here before me the whole balance of human life in miniature, the whole interplay of instinct, reason, and fate in its simplest form.
    • Ch. 16: How the Beast Folk Tasted Blood
  • I fell indeed into a morbid state, deep and enduring, and alien to fear, which has left permanent scars upon my mind. I must confess that I lost faith in the sanity of the world when I saw it suffering the painful disorder of this island. A blind Fate, a vast pitiless Mechanism, seemed to cut and shape the fabric of existence; and I, Moreau (by his passion for research), Montgomery (by his passion for drink), the Beast People with their instincts and mental restrictions, were torn and crushed, ruthlessly, inevitably, amid the infinite complexity of its incessant wheels.
    • Ch. 16: How the Beast Folk Tasted Blood
  • So indurated was I at that time to the abomination of the place, that I heard without a touch of emotion the puma victim begin another day of torture. It met its persecutor with a shriek, almost exactly like that of an angry virago.
    • Ch. 17: A Catastrophe
  • "This silly ass of a world," he said; "what a muddle it all is! I haven't had any life. I wonder when it's going to begin. Sixteen years being bullied by nurses and schoolmasters at their own sweet will; five in London grinding hard at medicine, bad food, shabby lodgings, shabby clothes, shabby vice, a blunder — I didn't know any better — and hustled off to this beastly island. Ten years here! What's it all for, Prendick? Are we bubbles blown by a baby?"
    • Ch. 19: Montgomery's 'Bank Holiday'
  • An animal may be ferocious and cunning enough, but it takes a real man to tell a lie.
    • Ch. 21: The Reversion of the Beast Folk
  • He had developed in the most wonderful way the distinctive silliness of man without losing one jot of the natural folly of a monkey.
    • Ch. 21: The Reversion of the Beast Folk
  • I had to act with the utmost circumspection to save myself from the suspicion of insanity. My memory of the Law, of the two dead sailors, of the ambuscades of the darkness, of the body in the canebrake, haunted me; and, unnatural as it seems, with my return to mankind came, instead of that confidence and sympathy I had expected, a strange enhancement of the uncertainty and dread I had experienced during my stay upon the island. No one would believe me; I was almost as queer to men as I had been to the Beast People. I may have caught something of the natural wildness of my companions. They say that terror is a disease, and anyhow I can witness that for several years now a restless fear has dwelt in my mind, such a restless fear as a half-tamed lion cub may feel.
    • Ch. 22: The Man Alone
  • ...I do not expect that the terror of that island will ever altogether leave me. At most times it lies far in the back of my mind, a mere distant cloud, a memory, and a faint distrust; but there are times when the little cloud spreads until it obscures the whole sky. Then I look about me at my fellow men; and I go in fear. I see faces, keen and bright; others, dull or dangerous; others, unsteady, insincere; none that have the calm authority of a reasonable soul. I feel as though the animal was surging up through them; that presently the degradation of the Islanders will be played over again on a larger scale. I know this is an illusion, that these seeming men and women about me are indeed men and women, men and women for ever, perfectly reasonable creatures, full of human desires and tender solicitude, emancipated from instinct and the slaves of no fantastic Law — beings altogether different from the Beast Folk. Yet I shrink from them, from their curious glances, their inquiries and assistance, and long to be away from them and alone.
    • Ch. 22: The Man Alone
  • There is, though I do not know how there is or why there is, a sense of infinite peace and protection in the glittering hosts of heaven. There it must be, I think, in the vast and eternal laws of matter, and not in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men, that whatever is more than animal within us must find its solace and its hope. I hope, or I could not live.
    • Ch. 22: The Man Alone
  • The Anglo-Saxon genius for parliamentary government asserted itself; there was a great deal of talk and no decisive action.
    • Chapter 6: The Furniture that Went Mad
  • "You don't understand," he said, "who I am or what I am. I'll show you. By Heaven! I'll show you." Then he put his open palm over his face and withdrew it. The centre of his face became a black cavity. "Here," he said. He stepped forward and handed Mrs. Hall something which she, staring at his metamorphosed face, accepted automatically. Then, when she saw what it was, she screamed loudly, dropped it, and staggered back. The nose—it was the stranger's nose! pink and shining—rolled on the floor.

    Then he removed his spectacles, and everyone in the bar gasped. He took off his hat, and with a violent gesture tore at his whiskers and bandages. For a moment they resisted him. A flash of horrible anticipation passed through the bar. "Oh, my Gard!" said some one. Then off they came.

    It was worse than anything. Mrs. Hall, standing open-mouthed and horror-struck, shrieked at what she saw, and made for the door of the house. Everyone began to move. They were prepared for scars, disfigurements, tangible horrors, but nothing! The bandages and false hair flew across the passage into the bar, making a hobbledehoy jump to avoid them. Everyone tumbled on everyone else down the steps. For the man who stood there shouting some incoherent explanation, was a solid gesticulating figure up to the coat-collar of him, and then—nothingness, no visible thing at all!

    • Chapter 7: The Unveiling of the Stranger
  • "Why!" said Huxter, suddenly, "that's not a man at all. It's just empty clothes. Look! You can see down his collar and the linings of his clothes. I could put my arm—"

    He extended his hand; it seemed to meet something in mid-air, and he drew it back with a sharp exclamation. "I wish you'd keep your fingers out of my eye," said the aerial voice, in a tone of savage expostulation. "The fact is, I'm all here: head, hands, legs, and all the rest of it, but it happens I'm invisible. It's a confounded nuisance, but I am. That's no reason why I should be poked to pieces by every stupid bumpkin in Iping, is it?"

    • Chapter 7: The Unveiling of the Stranger
  • "Pull yourself together," said the Voice, "for you have to do the job I've chosen for you."

    Mr. Marvel blew out his cheeks, and his eyes were round.

    "I've chosen you," said the Voice. "You are the only man except some of those fools down there, who knows there is such a thing as an invisible man. You have to be my helper. Help me—and I will do great things for you. An invisible man is a man of power."

    • Chapter 9: Mr. Thomas Marvel
  • Great and strange ideas transcending experience often have less effect upon men and women than smaller, more tangible considerations.
    • Chapter 10: Mr. Marvel's Visit To Iping
  • All men, however highly educated, retain some superstitious inklings.
    • Chapter 17: Dr. Kemp's Visitor
  • I remember that night. It was late at night—in the daytime one was bothered with the gaping, silly students—and I worked then sometimes till dawn. It came suddenly, splendid and complete in my mind. I was alone; the laboratory was still, with the tall lights burning brightly and silently. In all my great moments I have been alone. 'One could make an animal—a tissue—transparent! One could make it invisible! All except the pigments—I could be invisible!' I said, suddenly realising what it meant to be an albino with such knowledge. It was overwhelming. I left the filtering I was doing, and went and stared out of the great window at the stars. 'I could be invisible!' I repeated.

    To do such a thing would be to transcend magic. And I beheld, unclouded by doubt, a magnificent vision of all that invisibility might mean to a man—the mystery, the power, the freedom. Drawbacks I saw none.

    • Chapter 19: Certain First Principles
  • I was invisible, and I was only just beginning to realise the extraordinary advantage my invisibility gave me. My head was already teeming with plans of all the wild and wonderful things I had now impunity to do.
    • Chapter 20: At the House In Great Portland Street
  • [The invisible man said: ]"After a time I crawled home, took some food and a strong dose of strychnine, and went to sleep in my clothes on my unmade bed. Strychnine is a grand tonic, Kemp, to take the flabbiness out of a man."
    ----"It's the devil," said Kemp. "It's the palaeolithic in a bottle."
    --"I awoke vastly invigorated and rather irritable. You know?"
    ----"I know the stuff."
    • Chapter 20
  • My mood, I say, was one of exaltation. I felt as a seeing man might do, with padded feet and noiseless clothes, in a city of the blind. I experienced a wild impulse to jest, to startle people, to clap men on the back, fling people's hats astray, and generally revel in my extraordinary advantage.
    • Chapter 21: In Oxford Street
  • So last January, with the beginning of a snowstorm in the air about me—and if it settled on me it would betray me!—weary, cold, painful, inexpressibly wretched, and still but half convinced of my invisible quality, I began this new life to which I am committed. I had no refuge, no appliances, no human being in the world in whom I could confide. To have told my secret would have given me away—made a mere show and rarity of me. Nevertheless, I was half-minded to accost some passer-by and throw myself upon his mercy. But I knew too clearly the terror and brutal cruelty my advances would evoke. I made no plans in the street. My sole object was to get shelter from the snow, to get myself covered and warm; then I might hope to plan. But even to me, an Invisible Man, the rows of London houses stood latched, barred, and bolted impregnably.
    • Chapter 22: In The Emporium
  • Practically I thought I had impunity to do whatever I chose, everything—save to give away my secret. So I thought. Whatever I did, whatever the consequences might be, was nothing to me. I had merely to fling aside my garments and vanish. No person could hold me. I could take my money where I found it.
    • Chapter 23: In Drury Lane
  • The more I thought it over, Kemp, the more I realised what a helpless absurdity an Invisible Man was—in a cold and dirty climate and a crowded civilised city. Before I made this mad experiment I had dreamt of a thousand advantages. That afternoon it seemed all disappointment. I went over the heads of the things a man reckons desirable. No doubt invisibility made it possible to get them, but it made it impossible to enjoy them when they are got. Ambition—what is the good of pride of place when you cannot appear there? What is the good of the love of woman when her name must needs be Delilah? I have no taste for politics, for the blackguardisms of fame, for philanthropy, for sport. What was I to do? And for this I had become a wrapped-up mystery, a swathed and bandaged caricature of a man!
    • Chapter 23: In Drury Lane
  • "By Heaven, Kemp, you don't know what rage is! To have worked for years, to have planned and plotted, and then to get some fumbling purblind idiot messing across your course! Every conceivable sort of silly creature that has ever been created has been sent to cross me.

    "If I have much more of it, I shall go wild—I shall start mowing 'em.

    "As it is, they’ve made things a thousand times more difficult."

    "No doubt it’s exasperating," said Kemp, dryly.

    • Chapter 23: In Drury Lane
  • "The man's become inhuman, I tell you," said Kemp. "I am as sure he will establish a reign of terror—so soon as he has got over the emotions of this escape—as I am sure I am talking to you. Our only chance is to be ahead. He has cut himself off from his kind. His blood be upon his own head."
    • Chapter 25: The Hunting of the Invisible Man
  • "You have been amazingly energetic and clever," this letter ran, "though what you stand to gain by it I cannot imagine. You are against me. For a whole day you have chased me; you have tried to rob me of a night's rest. But I have had food in spite of you, I have slept in spite of you, and the game is only beginning. The game is only beginning. There is nothing for it, but to start the Terror. This announces the first day of the Terror. Port Burdock is no longer under the Queen, tell your Colonel of Police, and the rest of them; it is under me—the Terror! This is day one of year one of the new epoch—the Epoch of the Invisible Man. I am Invisible Man the First. To begin with the rule will be easy. The first day there will be one execution for the sake of example—a man named Kemp. Death starts for him to-day. He may lock himself away, hide himself away, get guards about him, put on armour if he likes—Death, the unseen Death, is coming. Let him take precautions; it will impress my people. Death starts from the pillar box by midday. The letter will fall in as the postman comes along, then off! The game begins. Death starts. Help him not, my people, lest Death fall upon you also. Today Kemp is to die."
    • Chapter 27: The Siege of Kemp's House
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own…
At times I suffer from the strangest sense of detachment from myself and the world about me; I seem to watch it all from the outside, from somewhere inconceivably remote, out of time, out of space, out of the stress and tragedy of it all.
For adaptations based on the novel see The War of the Worlds (disambiguation).
  • No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same ... Yet, across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.
    • Book I, Ch. 1: The Eve of the War
  • And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?
    • Book I, Ch. 1: The Eve of the War
  • I remember I felt an extraordinary persuasion that I was being played with, that presently, when I was upon the very verge of safety, this mysterious death--as swift as the passage of light--would leap after me from the pit about the cylinder and strike me down.
    • Book I, Ch. 5: The Heat-Ray
  • At times I suffer from the strangest sense of detachment from myself and the world about me; I seem to watch it all from the outside, from somewhere inconceivably remote, out of time, out of space, out of the stress and tragedy of it all.
    • Book I, Ch. 7: How I Reached Home
  • And this Thing I saw! How can I describe it? A monstrous tripod, higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder.
    • Book I, Ch. 10: In the Storm
  • To me it is quite credible that the Martians may be descended from beings not unlike ourselves, by a gradual development of brain and hands (the latter giving rise to the two bunches of delicate tentacles at last) at the expense of the rest of the body. Without the body the brain would, of course, become a mere selfish intelligence, without any of the emotional substratum of the human being.
    • Book II, Ch. 2 (Ch. 19 in editions without Book division): What We Saw from the Ruined House
  • Night, the mother of fear and mystery, was coming upon me.
    • Book II, Ch. 8 (Ch. 25 in editions without Book divisions): Dead London
  • In another moment I had scrambled up the earthen rampart and stood upon its crest, and the interior of the redoubt was below me. A mighty space it was, with gigantic machines here and there within it, huge mounds of material and strange shelter places. And scattered about it, some in their overturned war-machines, some in the now rigid handling-machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the Martians—dead!—slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man's devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.
    • Book II, Ch. 8 (Ch. 25 in editions without Book divisions): Dead London
  • For so it had come about, as indeed I and many men might have foreseen had not terror and disaster blinded our minds. These germs of disease have taken toll of humanity since the beginning of things — taken toll of our prehuman ancestors since life began here. But by virtue of this natural selection of our kind we have developed resisting power; to no germs do we succumb without a struggle, and to many — those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, for instance — our living frames are altogether immune. But there are no bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work their overthrow. Already when I watched them they were irrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went to and fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.
    • Book II, Ch. 8 (Ch. 25 in editions without Book divisions): Dead London
  • At any rate, whether we expect another invasion or not, our views of the human future must be greatly modified by these events. We have learned now that we cannot regard this planet as being fenced in and a secure abiding place for Man; we can never anticipate the unseen good or evil that may come upon us suddenly out of space. It may be that in the larger design of the universe this invasion from Mars is not without its ultimate benefit for men; it has robbed us of that serene confidence in the future which is the most fruitful source of decadence, the gifts to human science it has brought are enormous, and it has done much to promote the conception of the commonweal of mankind. It may be that across the immensity of space the Martians have watched the fate of these pioneers of theirs and learned their lesson, and that on the planet Venus they have found a securer settlement. Be that as it may, for many years yet there will certainly be no relaxation of the eager scrutiny of the Martian disk, and those fiery darts of the sky, the shooting stars, will bring with them as they fall an unavoidable apprehension to all the sons of men.
    • Book II, Ch. 10 (Ch. 27 in editions without Book divisions): The Epilogue

Full text online at Wikisource

  • "It's this accursed science," I cried. "It's the very Devil. The medieval priests and persecutors were right and the Moderns are all wrong. You tamper with it—and it offers you gifts. And directly you take them it knocks you to pieces in some unexpected way. Old passions and new weapons—now it upsets your religion, now it upsets your social ideas, now it whirls you off to desolation and misery!"
    • Ch. 13: Mr. Cavor Makes Some Suggestions
  • Over me, around me, closing in on me, embracing me ever nearer, was the Eternal; that which was before the beginning, and that which triumphs over the end; that enormous void in which all light and life and being is but the thin and vanishing splendour of a falling star, the cold, the stillness, the silence—the infinite and final Night of space.
    • Ch. 19: Mr. Bedford Alone
  • Every citizen knows his place. He is born to that place, and the elaborate discipline of training and education and surgery he undergoes fits him at last so completely to it that he has neither ideas nor organs for any purpose beyond it.
    • Ch. 24: The Natural History of the Selenites

Anticipations (1902)

  • And the ethical system of these men of the New Republic, the ethical system which will dominate the world state, will be shaped primarily to favour the procreation of what is fine and efficient and beautiful in humanity—beautiful and strong bodies, clear and powerful minds, and a growing body of knowledge—and to check the procreation of base and servile types, of fear-driven and cowardly souls, of all that is mean and ugly and bestial in the souls, bodies, or habits of men. To do the latter is to do the former; the two things are inseparable. And the method that nature has followed hitherto in the shaping of the world, whereby weakness was prevented from propagating weakness, and cowardice and feebleness were saved from the accomplishment of their desires, the method that has only one alternative, the method that must in some cases still be called in to the help of man, is death. In the new vision death is no inexplicable horror, no pointless terminal terror to the miseries of life, it is the end of all the pain of life, the end of the bitterness of failure, the merciful obliteration of weak and silly and pointless things.
  • And how will the New Republic treat the inferior races? How will it deal with the black? how will it deal with the yellow man? how will it tackle that alleged termite in the civilized woodwork, the Jew? Certainly not as races at all. [...] And the Jew also it will treat as any other man. It is said that the Jew is incurably a parasite on the apparatus of credit. If there are parasites on the apparatus of credit, that is a reason for the legislative cleaning of the apparatus of credit, but it is no reason for the special treatment of the Jew. If the Jew has a certain incurable tendency to social parasitism, and we make social parasitism impossible, we shall abolish the Jew, and if he has not, there is no need to abolish the Jew.
  • Nothing endures, nothing is precise and certain (except the mind of a pedant), perfection is the mere repudiation of that ineluctable marginal inexactitude which is the mysterious inmost quality of Being. Being, indeed! – there is no being, but a universal becoming of individualities, and Plato turned his back os truth when he turned towards his museum of specific ideals.
    • Ch. 1, sect. 5
  • Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia.
    • Ch. 2, sect. 3
  • Fools make researches and wise men exploit them—that is our earthly way of dealing with the question, and we thank Heaven for an assumed abundance of financially impotent and sufficiently ingenious fools.
    • Ch. 2, sect. 5
  • One of the darkest evils of our world is surely the unteachable wildness of the Good.
    • Ch. 2, sect. 6
  • The science hangs like a gathering fog in a valley, a fog which begins nowhere and goes nowhere, an incidental, unmeaning inconvenience to passers-by.
    • Ch. 3, sect. 3
  • Biologically the species is the accumulation of the experiments of all its successful individuals since the beginning.
    • Ch. 3, sect. 4
  • There is nothing in machinery, there is nothing in embankments and railways and iron bridges and engineering devices to oblige them to be ugly. Ugliness is the measure of imperfection.
    • Ch. 3, sect. 8
  • Crime and bad lives are the measure of a State's failure, all crime in the end is the crime of the community.
    • Ch. 5, sect. 2
  • But man is the unnatural animal, the rebel child of Nature, and more and more does he turn himself against the harsh and fitful hand that reared him.
    • Ch. 5, sect. 2
  • In all the round world of Utopia there is no meat. There used to be. But now we cannot stand the thought of slaughter-houses. And, in a population that is all educated, and at about the same level of physical refinement, it is practically impossible to find anyone who will hew a dead ox or pig. We never settled the hygienic question of meat-eating at all. This other aspect decided us. I can still remember, as a boy, the rejoicings over the closing of the last slaughter-house.
    • Ch. 9, sect. 5
  • For crude classifications and false generalisations are the curse of all organised human life.
    • Ch. 10, sect. 1
  • Suppose, now, there is such a thing as an all-round inferior race. Is that any reason why we should propose to preserve it for ever...? Whether there is a race so inferior I do not know, but certainly there is no race so superior as to be trusted with human charges. The true answer to Aristotle's plea for slavery, that there are “natural slaves,” lies in the fact that there are no “natural” masters... The true objection to slavery is not that it is unjust to the inferior but that it corrupts the superior. There is only one sane and logical thing to be done with a really inferior race, and that is to exterminate it. Now there are various ways of exterminating a race, and most of them are cruel. You may end it with fire and sword after the old Hebrew fashion; you may enslave it and work it to death, as the Spaniards did the Caribs; you may set it boundaries and then poison it slowly with deleterious commodities, as the Americans do with most of their Indians; you may incite it to wear clothing to which it is not accustomed and to live under new and strange conditions that will expose it to infectious diseases to which you yourselves are immune, as the missionaries do the Polynesians; you may resort to honest simple murder, as we English did with the Tasmanians; or you can maintain such conditions as conduce to “race suicide,” as the British administration does in Fiji. Suppose, then, for a moment, that there is an all-round inferior race... If any of the race did, after all, prove to be fit to survive, they would survive—they would be picked out with a sure and automatic justice from the over-ready condemnation of all their kind. Is there, however, an all-round inferior race in the world? Even the Australian black-fellow is, perhaps, not quite so entirely eligible for extinction as a good, wholesome, horse-racing, sheep-farming Australian white may think. These queer little races, the black-fellows, the Pigmies, the Bushmen, may have their little gifts, a greater keenness, a greater fineness of this sense or that, a quaintness of the imagination or what not, that may serve as their little unique addition to the totality of our Utopian civilisation. We are supposing that every individual alive on earth is alive in Utopia, and so all the surviving “black-fellows” are there. Every one of them in Utopia has had what none have had on earth, a fair education and fair treatment, justice, and opportunity...Some may be even prosperous and admired, may have married women of their own or some other race, and so may be transmitting that distinctive thin thread of excellence, to take its due place in the great synthesis of the future.
    • Ch. 10, sect. 3
  • The forceps of our minds are clumsy forceps, and crush the truth a little in taking hold of it.
    • Appendix, Scepticism of the Instrument
  • Our minds fall very readily under the spell of such unmitigated words as Purity and Chastity. Only death beyond decay, absolute non-existence, can be Pure and Chaste. Life is impurity, fact is impure. Everything has traces of alien matter; our very health is dependent on parasitic bacteria; the purest blood in the world has a tainted ancestor, and not a saint but has evil thoughts.... This stupidity, this unreasonable idealism of the common mind, fills life to-day with cruelties and exclusions, with partial suicides and secret shames. But we are born impure, we die impure; it is a fable that spotless white lilies sprang from any saint's decay, and the chastity of a monk or nun is but introverted impurity. We have to take life valiantly on these conditions and make such honour and beauty and sympathy out of our confusions, gather such constructive experience, as we may.... Life is that, and abstinence is for the most part a mere evasion of life.
    • Ch.3, section 20, Of Abstinences and Disciplines
  • Thought has made me shameless. It does not matter at last at all if one is a little harsh or indelicate or ridiculous if that also is in the mystery of things.
    Behind everything I perceive the smile that makes all effort and discipline temporary, all the stress and pain of life endurable. In the last resort I do not care whether I am seated on a throne or drunk or dying in a gutter. I follow my leading. In the ultimate I know, though I cannot prove my knowledge in any way whatever, that everything is right and all things mine.
    • Ch. 4, sect. 6, The Last Confession
The atomic bomb had dwarfed the international issues to complete insignificance. ... the only way to end war was to have but one government for mankind.
  • The atomic bomb had dwarfed the international issues to complete insignificance. When our minds wandered from the preoccupations of our immediate needs, we speculated upon the possibility of stopping the use of these frightful explosives before the world was utterly destroyed. For to us it seemed quite plain that these bombs and the still greater power of destruction of which they were the precursors might quite easily shatter every relationship and institution of mankind... war must end and that the only way to end war was to have but one government for mankind.
  • Ch. 3, Section 1
  • The Buddha Is Nearer to Us You see clearly a man, simple, devout, lonely, battling for light, a vivid human personality, not a myth. Beneath a mass of miraculous fable I feel that there also was a man. He too, gave a message to mankind universal in its character. Many of our best modern ideas are in closest harmony with it. All the miseries and discontents of life are due, he taught, to selfishness. Selfishness takes three forms — one, the desire to satisfy the senses; second, the craving for immortality; and the third the desire for prosperity and worldliness. Before a man can become serene he must cease to live for his senses or himself. Then he merges into a greater being. Buddha in a different language called men to self-forgetfulness five hundred years before Christ. In some ways he was near to us and our needs. Buddha was more lucid upon our individual importance in service than Christ, and less ambiguous upon the question of personal immortality.
    • Ch. 25
  • Ashoka (264 to 227 B.C.), one of the great monarchs of history, whose dominions extended from Afghanistan to Madras... is the only military monarch on record who abandoned warfare after victory. He had invaded Kalinga (255 B.C.), a country along the east coast of Madras, perhaps with some intention of completing the conquest of the tip of the Indian peninsula. The expedition was successful, but he was disgusted by what be saw of the cruelties and horrors of war. He declared, in certain inscriptions that still exist, that he would no longer seek conquest by war, but by religion, and the rest of his life was devoted to the spreading of Buddhism throughout the world.He seems to have ruled his vast empire in peace and with great ability. He was no mere religious fanatic. For eight and twenty years Asoka worked sanely for the real needs of men. Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Asoka shines, and shines, almost alone, a star. From the Volga to Japan his name is still honoured. China, Tibet, and even India, though it has left his doctrine, preserve the tradition of his greatness. More living men cherish his memory to-day than have ever heard the names of Constantine or Charlemagne.
  • From 1789 to late in 1791 the French Revolution was an orderly process, and from the summer of 1794 the Republic was an orderly and victorious state. The Terror was not the work of the whole country, but of the town mob which owed its existence and its savagery to the misrule, and social injustice of the ancient regime...More lives were wasted by the British generals alone on the opening day of what is known as the Somme offensive of July, 1916 than in the whole French Revolution from start to finish.
    • Ch. 36
  • The professional military mind is by necessity an inferior and unimaginative mind; no man of high intellectual quality would willingly imprison his gifts in such a calling.
    • Ch. 40
  • Human history is in essence a history of ideas.
    • Ch. 40
  • Every one of these hundreds of millions of human beings is in some form seeking happiness...Not one is altogether noble nor altogether trustworthy nor altogether consistent; and not one is altogether vile...Not a single one but has at some time wept.
    • Ch. 40
  • Our true nationality is mankind.
    • Ch. 41
  • Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe... Yet, clumsily or smoothly, the world, it seems, progresses and will progress.
    • Ch. 41
  • Life begins perpetually. Gathered together at last under the leadership of man, the student-teacher of the universe... unified, disciplined, armed with the secret powers of the atom, and with knowledge as yet beyond dreaming, Life, forever dying to be born afresh, forever young and eager, will presently stand upon this earth as upon a footstool, and stretch out its realm amidst the stars.
    • Ch. 41
  • The weaving of mankind into one community does not imply the creation of a homogeneous community, but rather the reverse; the welcome and adequate utilization of distinctive quality in an atmosphere of understanding... Communities all to one pattern, like boxes of toy soldiers, are things of the past, rather than of the future.
  • A time when all such good things will be for all men may be coming more nearly than we think. Each one who believes that brings the good time nearer; each heart that fails delays it.
The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints for a World Revolution (1928); a revised and expanded second edition of this in 1930 added the subtitle A Second Version of This Faith of a Modern Man Made More Explicit and Plain, in 1931 a third revised edition appeared titled What Are We to Do with Our Lives?, and in 1933 a final version appeared under the original title.
  • Man is an imperfect animal and never quite trustworthy in the dark.
  • It seemed to me that all over the world intelligent people were waking up to the indignity and absurdity of being endangered, restrained, and impoverished, by a mere uncritical adhesion to traditional governments, traditional ideas of economic life, and traditional forms of behaviour, and that these awaking intelligent people must constitute first a protest and then a creative resistance to the inertia that was stifling and threatening us. These people I imagined would say first, "We are drifting; we are doing nothing worth while with our lives. Our lives are dull and stupid and not good enough."
Then they would say, "What are we to do with our lives?"
And then, "Let us get together with other people of our sort and make over the world into a great world-civilization that will enable us to realize the promises and avoid the dangers of this new time."
It seemed to me that as, one after another, we woke up, that is what we should be saying. It amounted to a protest, first mental and then practical, it amounted to a sort of unpremeditated and unorganized conspiracy, against the fragmentary and insufficient governments and the wide-spread greed, appropriation, clumsiness, and waste that are now going on. But unlike conspiracies in general this widening protest and conspiracy against established things would, by its very nature, go on in the daylight, and it would be willing to accept participation and help from every quarter. It would, in fact, become an "Open Conspiracy," a necessary, naturally evolved conspiracy, to adjust our dislocated world.
If we don’t end war, war will end us.
  • Oswald Cabal: Dragging out life to the last possible second is not living to the best effect. The nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat. The best of life, Passworthy, lies nearest to the edge of death.
  • Rowena: I don't suppose any man has ever understood any woman since the beginning of things. You don't understand our imaginations, how wild our imaginations can be.
  • The Boss: You are not mechanics, you are warriors. You have been trained, not to think, but to do.
  • The Boss: The State's your mother, your father, the totality of your interests. No discipline can be too severe for the man that denies that by word or deed.
  • Rowena: You've got the subtlety of a bullfrog.
  • Oswald Cabal: There's nothing wrong in suffering, if you suffer for a purpose. Our revolution didn't abolish danger or death. It simply made danger and death worthwhile.
  • 'Pippa' Passworthy: This little upset across the water doesn't mean anything. Threatened men live long and threatened wars never occur.
  • John Cabal: If we don't end war, war will end us.
  • Raymond Passworthy: Oh, God, is there ever to be any age of happiness? Is there never to be any rest?
  • Oswald Cabal: Rest enough for the individual man, too much and too soon, and we call it death. But for Man, no rest and no ending. He must go on, conquest beyond conquest. First, this little planet and its winds and ways. And then all the laws of mind and matter that restrain him. Then the planets about him, and, at last, out across immensity to the stars. And when he has conquered all the depths of space, and all the mysteries of time, still he will be beginning...
  • Raymond Passworthy: But... we're such little creatures. Poor humanity's so fragile, so weak. Little... little animals.
  • Oswald Cabal: Little animals. And if we're no more than animals, we must snatch each little scrap of happiness, and live, and suffer, and pass, mattering no more than all the other animals do or have done. It is this, or that. All the universe or nothing. Which shall it be, Passworthy? Which shall it be?
Main article: World Brain
  • There has been ... an enormous waste of human mental and physical resources in premature revolutionary thrusts, ill-planned, dogmatic, essentially unscientific reconstructions and restorations of the social order, during the past hundred years. This was the inevitable first result of the discrediting of those old and superseded mental adaptations which were embodied in the institutions and education of the past. They discredited themselves and left the world full of problems.
    • Preface, p. xiii
  • We do not want dictators, we do not want oligarchic parties or class rule, we want a widespread world intelligence conscious of itself. To work out a way to that world brain organization is therefore our primary need in this age of imperative construction.
    • Preface, p. xvi

The Rights of Man, or what are we fighting for? (1940)

  • Throughout the whole world we see variations of this same subordination of the individual to the organisation of power. Phase by phase these ill-adapted governments are becoming uncontrolled absolutisms; they are killing that free play of the individual mind which is the preservative of human efficiency and happiness. The populations under their sway, after a phase of servile discipline, are plainly doomed to relapse into disorder and violence. Everywhere war and monstrous economic exploitation break out, so that those very same increments of power and opportunity which have brought mankind within sight of an age of limitless plenty, seem likely to be lost again, it may be lost forever, in an ultimate social collapse.
  • ...there has accumulated a vast tangle of emergency legislation, regulations, barriers and restraints, out of all proportion to and often missing and distorting the needs of the situation. For the restoration and modernisation of human civilization, this exaggerated outlawing of the fellow citizen whom we see fit to suspect as a traitor or revolutionary and also of the stranger within our gates, has to be restrained and brought back within the scheme of human rights.
  • Mr. Duff Cooper, landing at New York, cools his mind by blowing off about a forthcoming revolt of the German Army and a return to monarchy in Germany, a Holy Roman Empire, I suppose, leading that new Crusade of which the Pope has been talking about recent against anti-God Russia. But quite a lot of radical people in the world, in spite of the folly, stupidity and brutality of the Stalin–Molotov attack on Finland, are averse from this idea of a religious war against Socialism and Atheism.
  • Every man shall be entitled to a sound and objective education and there shall be genuine equality of opportunity. Education shall be a matter of environment as well as of instruction, and everyone shall be entitled to an education untouched by the interests of any party or religion.


  • In politics, strangely enough, the best way to play your cards is to lay them face upwards on the table.
    • Attributed to Wells's book New Worlds for Old (1908) by Ferdinand Lundberg in Scoundrels All (1968), p. 126. The quote is widely repeated on the internet, but does not appear in the cited work.
  • When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.
    • attributed in CARtoons by Andy Singer

Quotes about Wells

  • Wells is the Prospero of all the brave new worlds of the mind, and the Shakespeare of science fiction.
    • Brian Aldiss, Billion Year Spree, Doubleday 1973,, (p. 132).
  • Wells occupies an honoured place in science fiction. Without him, indeed, I can't see how any of it could have happened.
  • Mr. Wells is not shrinking back to a mossy political liberalism; he is expressing the clear-eyed conclusions of one abreast with his own latest experience. He has seen it demonstrated all over Europe and Asia that however much the world wants order, it cannot get it by mere violence and the magic of symbols. He has seen that however splendid fanatical dogmatism may feel internally to the possessor, it is the quickest way to chaos externally.
  • In 1933, Einstein's works were among those burned in the book bonfires organized by the Nazis throughout Germany, together with those of such different anti-fascist writers as Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Freud, Proust, Hemingway, H. G. Wells, Gide, Upton Sinclair, etc.
    • Marco Mamone Capria, in Physics Before and After Einstein (2005), IOS Press, p .6
  • "H. G." in his lifetime inspired countless thousands of the eager self-immolatory young with the faith that freedom-with-democracy-and-Socialism could be realised "in our time," as the ILP used to say...He was the leaven – the anarchic, human leaven – which prevented, and still prevents, our movement from becoming a soulless organisation.
  • The influence of H. G. Wells on other science fiction writers is immeasurable. His work is widely known far beyond the boundaries of the genre, and to a great extent the creators of all novels and films of alien invasions, time travel, or invisibility are at least partly in his debt.
  • Since the beginning of this war two men, whom we had thought of as slowly and unwillingly retiring from public life, have emerged into a glare of prominence. I mean Mr. Churchill and Mr. Wells. They must be nearly contemporary; they were both men of celebrity, I remember, when I was a freshman.
    • T. S. Eliot, New English Weekly, 8 February 1940. Reprinted in Patrick Parrinder, H.G. Wells: The Critical Heritage, Routledge and Kegan Paul, (p.319-20) 1972.
  • Both have spoken and written a great deal in the last thirty-odd years; neither possesses what one could call a style, though each has a distinct idiom: that of Mr Wells being more like a durable boiler suit, and that of Mr. Churchill more like a court dress of rather tarnished grandeur from a theatrical costumier's.
    • T. S. Eliot, New English Weekly, 8 February 1940. Reprinted in Patrick Parrinder, H.G. Wells: The Critical Heritage, Routledge and Kegan Paul, (p.319-20) 1972.
  • Wells' faith in knowledge and reason, in brief, excluded too large, too central a portion of human experience. He was for all that a very great figure of his epoch, a formative influence upon the minds and imagination of countless men and women, of society itself, and our debt to him cannot but be sincerely and gratefully acknowledged at this fateful moment of history in which we live and in some measure he foresaw.
    • T. S. Eliot, New English Weekly, 8 February 1940. Reprinted in Patrick Parrinder, H.G. Wells: The Critical Heritage, Routledge and Kegan Paul, (p.319-20) 1972.
  • What a debt every intelligent being owes to Bernard Shaw! What a debt also to H. G. Wells, whose mind seems to have grown up alongside his readers', so that, in successive phases, be has delighted us and guided our imaginations from boyhood to maturity.
    • John Maynard Keynes, "One of Wells' Worlds" (Review of the World of William Clissold") in The New Republic (1 February 1927). Reprinted in Groff Conklin, The New Republic anthology, 1915-1935, Dodge Publishing Company, 1936.
  • "Progress" is for the convinced ochlocrats a consoling Utopia of madly increased comfort and technicism. This charming but dull vision was always the pseudoreligious consolation of millions of ecstatic believers in ochlocracy and in the relative perfection and wisdom of Mr. and Mrs. Averageman. Utopias in general are surrogates for heaven; they give a meager solace to the individual that his sufferings and endeavors may enable future generations to enter the chiliastic paradise. Communism works in a similar way. Its millennium is almost the same as that of ochlocracy. The Millennium of Lenin, the Millennium of Bellamy, the Millennium as represented in H. G. Wells's, "Of Things to Come," the Millennium of Adolf Hitler and Henry Ford — they are all basically the same; they often differ in their means to attain it but they all agree in the point of technical perfection and the classless or at least totally homogeneous society without grudge or envy.
    • Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, writing under the pen name Francis Stewart Campbell (1943), Menace of the Herd, or, Procrustes at Large, Milwaukee, WI: The Bruce Publishing Company, pp. 35-36
  • I have no hestitation whatever in saying that Wells, as he is, entertains me far more agreeably than Dickens. I know very well that the author of David Copperfield was a greater artist than the author of Mr. Polly, just as I know that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a more virtuous man than my good friend, Fred the Bartender, ; but all the same, I prefer Wells and Fred to Dickens and the Archbishop.
    • H. L. Mencken, in Smart Set, July 1910. Reprinted in William J. Scheick, The Critical Response to H. G. Wells, Greenwood Press (p. 93), 1995.
  • H.G. Wells, a great artist, was my favourite writer when I was a boy. The Passionate Friends, Ann Veronica, The Time Machine, The Country of the Blind, all these stories are far better than anything Bennett, or Conrad, or, in fact, any of Wells' contemporaries would produce. His sociological cogitations can be safely ignored, of course, but his romances and fantasies are superb.
    • Vladimir Nabokov, in Herbert Gold, "Interview with Vladimir Nabokov". Reprinted in George Plimpton, Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews. Viking Press, 1976.
  • In spite of an awareness of possible world catastrophe that underlay much of his earlier work and flared up again in old age, Wells in his lifetime was regarded as the chief literary spokesman of the liberal optimism that preceded World War I. No other writer has caught so vividly the energy of this period, its adventurousness, its feeling of release from the conventions of Victorian thought and propriety. Wells's influence was enormous, both on his own generation and on that which immediately followed it. None of his contemporaries did more to encourage revolt against Christian tenets and accepted codes of behaviour, especially as regards sex, in which, both in his books and in his personal life, he was a persistent advocate of an almost complete freedom. Though in many ways hasty, ill-tempered, and contradictory, Wells was undeviating and fearless in his efforts for social equality, world peace, and what he considered to be the future good of humanity.
  • The only political organisation Wells seems to have worked with successfully was PEN, for which he was International President between 1933 and 1936, and even then he was responsible for overseeing the expulsion of the German and Italian branches of the organisation due to their lack of respect for the free speech of non-fascist writers.
    • John S. Partington, Building Cosmopolis: The Political Thought of H.G. Wells (2003), Ashgate, p. 17
  • To say that The Invisible Man is a young writer's novel is not to belittle it. It has much of the attractiveness of youth.
    • Christopher Priest, "Introduction" to the Penguin Classics Editon of The Invisible Man (2005)
  • * It's silly for young men to announce themselves as new types of humanity. . .and then give you nothing but stale communism. Old H.G. Wells has more new ideas than the lot of them.
    • J. B. Priestley, Letter to Hugh Walpole, 21 April 1933. Quoted in Roger Fagge, The Vision of J.B. Priestley. London : Bloomsbury Academic, 2013, (p.9).
  • It was Wells who made it respectable, even before World War I, for liberals in England and America to demean their own native democratic culture in the name of an imagined antidemocratic World State.
    • Fred Siegel,“The Godfather of American Liberalism: H. G. Wells: novelist, historian, authoritarian, anticapitalist, eugenicist, and advisor to presidents,” City Journal (Spring 2009) [1]
  • In a talk at Oxford provocatively titled ‘Liberal Fascism,’ [Wells] called for liberalism to be ‘born again.’ After his customary denunciation of parliamentary politics as an anachronism, he let out his frustrations, calling for fascist means to serve liberal ends by way of a liberal elite as ‘conceited’ and as power-hungry as its rivals. ‘I suggest that you study the reinvigoration of Catholicism by Loyola,’ Wells said. ‘I am asking for a Liberal Fascisti.’ It was also to Communism that ‘we shall have to turn—we outsiders, that is, the young people with foresight for enlightened Nazis; I am proposing that you consider the formation for a greater Communist Party; a western response to Russia.’
    • Fred Siegel,“The Godfather of American Liberalism: H. G. Wells: novelist, historian, authoritarian, anticapitalist, eugenicist, and advisor to presidents,” City Journal (Spring 2009) [2]
  • In fact, the real problem with the thesis of A Genealogy of Morals is that the noble and the aristocrat are just as likely to be stupid as the plebeian. I had noted in my teens that major writers are usually those who have had to struggle against the odds -- to "pull their cart out of the mud," as I put it -- while writers who have had an easy start in life are usually second rate -- or at least, not quite first-rate. Dickens, Balzac, Dostoevsky, Shaw, H. G. Wells, are examples of the first kind; in the twentieth century, John Galsworthy, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, and Samuel Beckett are examples of the second kind. They are far from being mediocre writers; yet they tend to be tinged with a certain pessimism that arises from never having achieved a certain resistance against problems.
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