The Work of H.G. Wells

Ref: C3743105

H G Wells is often described as the “father of science fiction”. This five week course looks at Wells as a forward-thinking, often prophetic social critic; a futurist who foresaw the advent of astonishing technological and scientific advances, and a sensitive observer of everyday human existence. We will begin with The Time Machine, looking at fin-de-siècle discourses on post-Darwinian thought and degeneration. Wells’s early specialist training was in biology, and the second text, The Island of Doctor Moreau, continues the exploration of ethical matters in a specifically Darwinian context. In the third week we will look at a selection of Wells’s non-fictional writing and contemporary works, the week 4 completes our exploration of science fiction with a consideration of invasion anxiety in The War of the Worlds. The course ends with The History of Mr Polly – a depiction of lower-middle-class life which led to the suggestion that Wells was a worthy successor to Charles Dickens.

Course aim

To examine a selection of works by H G Wells in their historical and sociological context.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify the characteristics of a selection of novels by this key author and locate the texts in their historical and sociological contexts.
  • Discuss a number of the key discourses of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
  • Describe the anxieties and preoccupations of writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
  • Interpret literary texts in a critical way, illustrating arguments with carefully chosen examples.
  • Demonstrate my knowledge through the construction of critical arguments and present and defend those arguments confidently with my peers.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • Please bring the preliminary texts as listed below.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Week 1: The Time Machine Week 2: The Island of Doctor Moreau Week 3: Selected essays (handout) Week 4: The War of the Worlds Week 5: The History of Mr Polly

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course information sheet

The Work of H.G. Wells


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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