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The Journalism of H. G. Wells: An Annotated Bibliography by David C. Smith (review)
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In his novel In the Days of the Comet (1906) Wells described the frenetic production and consumption of newspapers during the Edwardian era as 'a noisy paroxysm of nonsense, unreasonable excitement, witless mischief, and waste of strength — signifying nothing'. After the world is plunged into the soporific, green vapours of a comet, society awakens to a more egalitarian future and has no more use for the news papers which, Wells's narrator believed, so calculatedly promoted greed and hostilities between individuals and nations. Wells is best known today for his early, masculine, scientific, romantic adventures; for instance his tale of the destruction and revival of civilization in The War of the Worlds (1898) has been enthusiastically adapted throughout the last two centuries for the radio, stage, and cinema. What this new bibliography on Wells emphasizes is that throughout his prolific career as a novelist Wells was always a journalist, whose work was craved by the voracious public; yet he also used the press as a way to communicate his ideas on how the press and society could be reformed. As a child he exhibited journalistic spark when he produced The Up Park Alarmist, a daily paper that he produced while snowed in with the household staff at the Uppark country estate where his mother was housekeeper. I think that Wells's somewhat ambivalent relationship with the media is apparent in this bibliography: In the Days of the Comet appeared in a London newspaper, the bestselling Daily Chronicle, and, while Wells had his doubts about the BBC, given that talks were subject to censorship, he gave his first radio speech, entitled 'World Peace', in 1929.

While the price of this book may restrict its market, the cover reaches out to a larger audience — the striking vintage scrapbook design featuring pins, paperclips, and sticky-back notes is highly contemporary right now. The breadth of Wells's journalistic writings is hinted at on the cover, whereby the fragments of the newspapers, which form the words of the bibliography's title, reflect the span of Wells's journalistic career, from the Fin de Siècle to just after World War II. The design also gives us a glimpse of the process of work that has gone into this volume. The editor, David C. Smith (1929-2009), was Bird Professor of American History at the University of Maine and author of H. G. Wells: Desperately Mortal (1986). I once had the pleasure of meeting and corresponding with him on Wells's novel, Ann Veronica (1909). His The Correspondence of H. G. Wells (1998), published in four volumes, is a major resource, and has been indispensable to me as it has been to scholars worldwide. He began compiling the bibliography in 1970 around the time he spotted a rare copy of the report of the World Congress of Freethinkers in a jumble of rejects outside a shop in Saffron Walden. His aim was to collate not only all Wells's known journalistic works but also to provide a list of conjectural items. After David C. Smith's death in 2009 the H. G. Wells Society and the Science Fiction Foundation gave their support to the completion of the bibliography, the culmination of almost forty years of research. Patrick Parrinder, Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Reading and Vice-President of the H. G. Wells Society, oversaw the project. While the collection of gathered references was formidable, so was the list of missing page numbers. Numerous Wells scholars cast their eyes over the work and tracked down the essential information, thus adding their own sticky notes to the text. The volume has benefitted from all this attention and the result is that it is challenging to find any errors.

The format is particularly user-friendly. Following Patrick Parrinder and David C. Smith's introductions, a helpful descriptive list of the featured periodicals and news papers, their editors, political leanings, and dates is provided by Mike Ashley who is himself a prolific bibliographer. His discussion of the historical context behind the publication of these periodicals saved me from having to hunt down a tome on Victorian journalists. The next section looks at published collections of Wells...



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