The literary biographer looks at the early life of influential writer and public figure H.G. Wells, from his school days and his emergence as writer of extraordinary depth to the publication of The Time Machine.
... plainly written, packed with incident and justly admiring without being uncritical...also quite openly personal ... Three excellent full-length biographies chronicle Wells’s colorful life in full. But for a compact overview of this endlessly fascinating man and writer, Tomalin’s The Young H.G. Wells is hard to beat, being friendly, astute and a pleasure to read.
Tomalin’s short, engaging biography is a welcome addition to the conversation ... Ms. Tomalin paints a vivid picture of the upstairs-downstairs world of England’s class system, and how Wells’s experiences at Uppark shaped his views on the importance of a more just society ... Ms. Tomalin dutifully untangles Wells’s wildly complex affairs ... just as Wells crammed a lot into his full life, Ms. Tomalin crams a lot into this short biography. Occasionally, like a museum curator torn between arranging an exhibit chronologically or thematically, Ms. Tomalin opts for a mix, and the narrative lines get tangled. Too many precious pages are devoted to the history of the socialist Fabian Society, and to Wells’s relationship with its early members, Beatrice and Sidney Webb (founders of the London School of Economics) ... Given the time and space constraints of Ms. Tomalin’s project, some gaps are to be expected. Even so, a look into a few of Wells’s disappointing later books might have strengthened her argument about the superiority of his earlier work ... Ms. Tomalin segues nicely from a brief account of the demise of many of Wells’s friendships to a necessarily brisk overview of his later years and the tributes that followed his death. Her own tribute is full-hearted...Her book makes a strong case for Wells’s enduring importance.
... compact but richly informative ... [Tomalin] admits that, although she set out to write about the young Wells, she has followed him into his forties because she found him 'too interesting to leave'. The same can be said of her book.