H.G. Wells, a study of his literary reputation in England and the United States
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During his lifetime, H. G. Wells enjoyed an international reputation as a novelist, a political figure, and an educator. The British considered him to he primarily a novelist and relegated his political, and educational activities to the background in their formation of his reputation. Americans, on the other hand, considered Wells's contributions to fictional literature insignificant when compared to his achievements as a political, prophet and teacher of mankind. This study investigates the ways in which his reputation was formed in both England and the United States and attempts to account for the different perceptions of Wells's work by British and American audiences. Differences in literary expectations, in political orientations, and even in the distinctive national temperaments of the British and American peoples are taken into account, as are the tactics that Wells seems to have used consciously in order to appeal to the different national audiences. Current literary opinion more closely resembles Wells's British reception than his American one, but his influence on the world of his day encompassed more areas than that of literary expertise. This study compares the British and American reactions to Wells during his lifetime and proposes reasons why his readers were willing to consider him an authority in areas he was actually academically unqualified to speak about as well as to consider him a proficient novelist.