The Best H.G. Wells Novels: An introduction guide to the Sci-Fi Visionary author

Hailed as the “Shakespeare of science fiction” by Brian Aldiss, H.G. Wells, born in 1866, emerged as a prolific English writer who greatly influenced the genre. Alongside Jules Verne, he shaped science fiction with his imaginative tales of time travel, alien invasions, and biological engineering. Wells authored over 100 books, including more than fifty novels and numerous short stories, exploring various genres from fiction to non-fiction.

Born into modest circumstances, Wells developed a passion for reading while bedridden with a broken leg at a young age. Encountering financial hardships, he pursued self-education and embarked on a diverse career, working as an unhappy apprentice, a chemist’s assistant, and a teacher. His writing journey began with the publication of a Textbook on Biology in 1893, followed by humorous articles to support himself. In 1895, Wells achieved instant success with his first-length novel, The Time Machine, marking the start of his acclaimed science fiction career.

As his career evolved, Wells transitioned from science fiction to comedic novels reflecting the lives of the lower middle class. Drawing from personal experiences, he also became a prominent voice for social progress. Despite facing declining health, Wells continued to write, infusing his works with satire and a more pessimistic outlook on the future. His advocacy for human rights and peace persisted, even during the challenging times of World War II.

On 13 August 1946, Wells passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home on Hanover Terrace, just weeks before his eightieth birthday.

To explore his legacy as a groundbreaking sci-fi and social writer, the following are some suggestions…

Where to start with H.G. Wells?

H.G. Wells found immediate success with The Time Machine in 1895. This post-apocalyptic science fiction novella is still held as one of H.G. Wells’s best works and often served as an entry point for new readers. This is a classic tale of time travel beginning in Victorian London and going to the year AD 802, 701, going forward or backward through time.

If you prefer to avoid time-traveling, turn without hesitation your attention toward The War of The Worlds, often considered the first tale of an alien invasion. It detailed how, in late Victorian England, Southern England was invaded with ease by Martians.

Those two books are both classic science-fiction books that influenced many writers and have been adapted many times.

David Lodge’s Top 10 H.G. Wells books

David Lodge is an English novelist and critic, author of A Man of Parts (2011), a fictionalized account of H.G. Wells’s life and career.

The year his book was released, he gave in The Guardian his 10 favourites books from H.G. Wells:

  1. The Time Machine (1895)
  2. The War of the Worlds (1898)
  3. Kipps (1905)
  4. Tono-Bungay (1909)
  5. Ann Veronica (1909)
  6. The History of Mr Polly (1910)
  7. Mr Brittling Sees It Through (1916)
  8. Russia in the Shadows (1920)
  9. A Short History of the World (1922)
  10. Experiment in Autobiography: Discoveries and Conclusions of a Very Ordinary Brain (1934)

Roger Luckhurst’s 5 Recommended H.G. Wells Books

Editor and author Roger Luckhurst was interviewed by David Shackleton in 2016 for Five Books where he recommended five H.G. Wells books (and talked about his choices).

He also included a book from Christopher Caudwell containing what he describes as a ‘an incredibly insightful essay on H G Wells, which I think really nails his contradictions.’

  1. The Time Machine (1895)
  2. The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896)
  3. The War of the Worlds (1898)
  4. Anticipations of the Reactions of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought (1901)
  5. Studies in a Dying Culture (1938, by Christopher Caudwell)

More H.G. Wells

For a complete list of H.G. Wells Books and more info on the author and his books:

The H.G. Wells Society. Official Website
H. G. Wells bibliography. Wikipedia