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H.G. Wells

10 of 78 portraits of H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells, by Gisèle Freund, 1939 - NPG P438 - © Estate Gisèle Freund / IMEC Images

© Estate Gisèle Freund / IMEC Images

H.G. Wells

by Gisèle Freund
colour print, 1939
11 3/4 in. x 8 in. (301 mm x 201 mm)
Purchased, 1990
Primary Collection
NPG P438


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  • Herbert George Wells (1866-1946), Novelist and social commentator. Sitter associated with 78 portraits.

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This portraitback to top

Wells was by 1939 becoming increasingly pessimistic. His futuristic novels, The Time Machine (1895) and The Shape of Things to Come (1939) were to gain a retrospective gimmer for predicting air warfare and the atomic bomb. Wells engineered a sitting with G.B. Shaw for Freund and wrote to her on receiving prints of his own and Shaw's photographs, 'As far as my own picture is concerned, frankly I do not like it at all. It is is not flattering enough'.

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Events of 1939back to top

Current affairs

Britain goes to war. The German invasion of Poland demonstrated that the policy of appeasement had failed. After refusing to meet Britain's ultimatum to withdraw troops, Britain and France declared war on Germany. The Second World War had begun.

Art and science

The Sutton Hoo burial ship is discovered. Apparently following a dream, Mrs Pretty invited the archaeologist Basil Brown to investigate a series of burial mounds on her estate on the banks of the river Deben in Suffolk. The excavation revealed an Anglo-Saxon burial, uncovering the most significant horde of early medieval artefacts found in Britain (now housed at the British Museum).

International

The Second World War begins. Germany's invasion of Poland prompted Britain and France to declare war forming the core of the Allied powers. As part of the Soviet-Nazi Pact, the Soviet Union joined the war on the German side, helping, with Italy, to form the Axis Powers. Poland was soon overpowered and the Baltic Republics and Finland were invaded by the Soviet Union.

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