H. G. Wells Quotes

Herbert George Wells, 1866 – 1946

Born: 21 September 1866, Bromley, England, UK
Died: 13 August 1946, London, England, UK

Wells’ family was lower middle class, his father Joseph had a small shop (china and sporting goods, seems an odd combination) that didn’t provide much income. Joseph played cricket for the Kent county team. Happy fans would make contributions after a game rather than buying tickets, which meant that this income was sporadic, and ended when he fractured his thigh in 1877. Wells himself broke a leg in 1874 and was confined to bed, during which time he acquired his love of reading. He attended Morley’s Academy from late 1874 to 1880 when, due to lack of income, he was apprenticed to a draper. His parents separated when his mother took a job as lady’s maid at Uppark in Sussex where there was no accommodation for family, but whenever “Bertie” came upon hard times he retreated there and was allowed to stay briefly, time he spent mostly in the large library of the estate. He served as a pupil-teacher briefly and also apprenticed as a chemist. In 1884 he won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science where he studied biology under Thomas Henry Huxley, completing his studies without a degree in 1887, and writing his first fiction there. He did earn a BS in Zoology from the University of London External Programme in 1890. It was only in 1901 that his writing really thrived, after the Orson Welles radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds Wells referred to it as one of his “more obscure” titles. In his last years he was embittered and his commercial and critical success waned. He was an independent socialist politically, but publicly enough that the SS plans for invasion of England included him on the list of intellectuals and politicians to be immediately arrested. His science fiction works forecast a number of development that came to pass, but completely missed others, such as the airplane (he didn’t expect them before 1950) and submarine (such wouldn’t do “anything but suffocate its crew and founder at sea”). Wells married a cousin in 1891 but left her for a student in 1894, they married the next year and had two sons. He was hardly faithful, he is known to have had affairs with at least five women, several of them prominent, and had at least two bastard children. He suffered from diabetes and though no formal cause of death is recorded, this is most likely. The American rocket developer Robert H. Goddard was inspired by his work, his work directly led to the German V2 and hence the US space program.

H. G. Wells quotes:

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.
    H. G. Wells – The Salvaging of Civilization (1921)

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?”
    H. G. Wells – The Open Conspiracy (1933)

Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.
    H. G. Wells – A Short History of the World (1922)

Advertising is legalized lying.
    H. G. Wells

Affliction comes to us, not to make us sad but sober; not to make us sorry but wise.
    H. G. Wells

After people have repeated a phrase a great number of times, they begin to realize it has meaning and may even be true.
    H. G. Wells

All men, however highly educated, retain some superstitious inklings.
    H. G. Wells – The Invisible Man (1897)

Alone— it is wonderful how little a man can do alone! To rob a little, to hurt a little, and there is the end.
    H. G. Wells – The Invisible Man (1897)

An artist who theorizes about his work is no longer artist but critic.
    H. G. Wells – The Temptaion of Harringay (1929)

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.
    H. G. Wells – The War in the Air (1908)

Are we all bubbles blown by a baby?
    H. G. Wells

Beauty is in the heart of the beholder.
    H. G. Wells

Biologically the species is the accumulation of the experiments of all its successful individuals since the beginning.
    H. G. Wells – A Modern Utopia (1905)

But he was one of those weak creatures, void of pride, timorous, anemic, hateful souls, full of shifty cunning, who face neither God nor man, who face not even themselves.
    H. G. Wells – The War of the Worlds (1898)

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.
    H. G. Wells – A Modern Utopia (1905)

By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers.
    H. G. Wells – The War of the Worlds (1898)

Crime and bad lives are the measure of a State’s failure, all crime in the end is the crime of the community.
    H. G. Wells – A Modern Utopia (1905)

Crude classifications and false generalisations are the curse of all organised human life.
    H. G. Wells – A Modern Utopia (1905)

Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia.
    H. G. Wells – A Modern Utopia (1905)

Cynicism is humour in ill health.
    H. G. Wells – Boon, The Mind of the Race, The Wild Asses of the Devil, and The Last Trump (1915)

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.
    H. G. Wells – The Outline of History (1920)

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.
    H. G. Wells

Few people realise the immensity of vacancy in which the dust of the material universe swims.
    H. G. Wells – The War of the Worlds (1898)

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.
    H. G. Wells – A Modern Utopia (1905)

He, I know—for the question had been discussed among us long before the Time Machine was made—thought but cheerlessly of the Advancement of Mankind, and saw in the growing pile of civilization only a foolish heaping that must inevitably fall back upon and destroy its makers in the end.
    H. G. Wells – The Time Machine (1895)

Heresies are experiments in man’s unsatisfied search for truth.
    H. G. Wells – Crux Ansata: An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (1943)

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.
    H. G. Wells – The Outline of History (1920)

Human history is in essence a history of ideas.
    H. G. Wells – The Outline of History (1920)

Humanity either makes, or breeds, or tolerates all its afflictions, great or small.
    H. G. Wells – Joan and Peter: The Story of an Education (1918)

I had rather be called a journalist than an artist.
    H. G. Wells – Letter to Henry James (8 July 1915)

I hope, or I could not live.
    H. G. Wells – The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)

I see knowledge increasing and human power increasing. I see ever-increasing possibilities before life, And I see no limits set to it at all, Existence impresses me as a perpetual dawn. Our lives, as I apprehend, are great in expectations.
    H. G. Wells

I told you so. You damned fools.
    H. G. Wells – Proposed epitaph, from preface to The War in the Air (1941)

I want to go ahead of Father Time with a scythe of my own.
    H. G. Wells

I was never a great amorist, though I have loved several people very deeply.
    H. G. Wells – Experiment in Autobiography (1934)

I was too restless to watch long; I am too Occidental for a long vigil. I could work at a problem for years, but to wait inactive for twenty-four hours—that is another matter.
    H. G. Wells – The Time Machine (1895)

I write as straight as I can, just as I walk as straight as I can, because that is the best way to get there.
    H. G. Wells

If we don’t end war, war will end us.
    H. G. Wells

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise. Attack it at an hour when it isn’t expecting it.
    H. G. Wells

If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.
    H. G. Wells

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.
    H. G. Wells – The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind (1931)

In politics, strangely enough, the best way to play your cards is to lay them face upwards on the table.
    H. G. Wells

It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble. An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have a huge variety of needs and dangers.
    H. G. Wells – The Time Machine (1895)

Leaders should lead as far as they can and then vanish. Their ashes should not choke the fire they have lit.
    H. G. Wells

Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life.
    H. G. Wells – The Time Machine (1895)

Losing your way on a journey is unfortunate. But, losing your reason for the journey is a fate more cruel.
    H. G. Wells

Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.
    H. G. Wells – The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman (1914)

Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no need of change.
    H. G. Wells – The Time Machine (1895)

New and stirring things are belittled because if they are not belittled the humiliating question arises ‘Why then are you not taking part in them?’
    H. G. Wells

Night, the mother of fear and mystery, was coming upon me.
    H. G. Wells – The War of the Worlds (1898)

No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.
    H. G. Wells

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.
    H. G. Wells – The World Set Free (1914)

Nothing leads so straight to futility as literary ambitions without systematic knowledge.
    H. G. Wells

Once the command of the air is obtained by one of the contending armies, the war becomes a conflict between a seeing host and one that is blind.
    H. G. Wells – The War in the Air (1908)

One of the darkest evils of our world is surely the unteachable wildness of the Good.
    H. G. Wells – A Modern Utopia (1905)

Only people who are well off can be complex.
    H. G. Wells – Love and Mr. Lewisham (1900)

Room to swing a cat, it seemed was absolutely essential. It was an infrequent but indispensable operation.
    H. G. Wells – Kipps: the Story of a Simple Soul (1905)

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.
    H. G. Wells – The Soul of a Bishop (1917)

Sometimes, you have to step outside of the person you’ve been and remember the person you were meant to be. The person you want to be.
    H. G. Wells

States organized for war will make war as surely as hens will lay eggs.
    H. G. Wells

Strength is the outcome of need; security sets a premium on feebleness.
    H. G. Wells – The Time Machine (1895)

Success is to be measured not by wealth, power, or fame, but by the ratio between what a man is and what he might be.
    H. G. Wells

The Anglo-Saxon genius for parliamentary government asserted itself; there was a great deal of talk and no decisive action.
    H. G. Wells – The Invisible Man (1897)

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.
    H. G. Wells – The World Set Free (1914)

The crisis of yesterday is the joke of tomorrow.
    H. G. Wells – You Can’t be Too Careful (1941)

The doctrine of the Kingdom of Heaven, which was the main teaching of Jesus, is certainly one of the most revolutionary doctrines that ever stirred and changed human thought.
    H. G. Wells – The Outline of History (1920)

The forceps of our minds are clumsy forceps, and crush the truth a little in taking hold of it.
    H. G. Wells – A Modern Utopia (1905)

The lawgiver, of all beings, most owes the law allegiance. He of all men should behave as though the law compelled him. But it is the universal weakness of mankind that what we are given to administer we presently imagine we own.
    H. G. Wells

The past is but the beginning of a beginning, and all that is or has been is but the twilight of the dawn.
    H. G. Wells – The Discovery of the Future (1901)

The path of least resistance is the path of the loser.
    H. G. Wells

The path of social advancement is, and must be, strewn with broken friendships.
    H. G. Wells – Kipps: the Story of a Simple Soul (1905)

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.
    H. G. Wells – The Outline of History (1920)

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.
    H. G. Wells – A Modern Utopia (1905)

The study of Nature makes a man at last as remorseless as Nature.
    H. G. Wells

The third peculiarity of aerial warfare was that it was at once enormously destructive and entirely indecisive.
    H. G. Wells – The War in the Air (1908)

The too perfect security of the Upper-worlders had led them to a slow movement of degeneration, a general dwindling in size, strength, and intelligence.
    H. G. Wells – The Time Machine (1895)

The true objection to slavery is not that it is unjust to the inferior but that it corrupts the superior.
    H. G. Wells – A Modern Utopia (1905)

The uglier a man’s legs are, the better he plays golf. It’s almost a law.
    H. G. Wells – Bealby: A Holiday (1915)

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.
    H. G. Wells – The Outline of History (1920)

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.
    H. G. Wells

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.
    H. G. Wells – A Modern Utopia (1905)

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.
    H. G. Wells – The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)

There’s truths you have to grow into.
    H. G. Wells – Love and Mr. Lewisham (1900)

This has ever been the fate of energy in security; it takes to art and to eroticism, and then comes languor and decay.
    H. G. Wells – The Time Machine (1895)

Very simple was my explanation, and plausible enough—as most wrong theories are!
    H. G. Wells – The Time Machine (1895)

We are kept keen on the grindstone of pain and necessity.
    H. G. Wells

We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery.
    H. G. Wells

We were making the future and hardly any of us troubled to think what future we were making. And here it is!
    H. G. Wells – When The Sleeper Wakes (1899)

What good is religion if it collapses under calamity?
    H. G. Wells – The War of the Worlds (1898)

What on earth would a man do with himself, if something did not stand in his way?
    H. G. Wells

Whilst there is a chance of the world getting through its troubles, I hold that a reasonable man has to behave as though he were sure of it. If at the end your cheerfulness is not justified, at any rate you will have been cheerful.
    H. G. Wells

With wine and food, the confidence of my own table, and the necessity of reassuring my wife, I grew by insensible degrees courageous and secure.
    H. G. Wells – The War of the Worlds (1898)

You have learned something. That always feels at first as if you had lost something.
    H. G. Wells

Evelyn Waugh Quotes

Frank Lloyd Wright Quotes