April 11, 2024

Exhibition covers H.G. Wells’ rise to prominence from poor science teacher to successful author

H.G. Wells: A Scientific Romance on display in UCalgary's Nickle Galleries until July 19

UCalgary Library's Archives and Special Collections has launched an exhibition highlighting their extensive collection of H.G. Wells' published works and correspondence. The exhibition is on display at Nickle Galleries (inside the Taylor Family Digital Library) until July 19.

H.G. Wells: A Scientific Romance traces Wells' extraordinary early output in the 1890s and his rise to prominence as one of the major early figures in the world of science fiction. Trained in the sciences, Wells intended to be a teacher. Instead, poor health led him to pursue freelance journalism and write science-infused adventure stories known as “scientific romances.” 

The exhibition encompasses two large collections; the Erick Korn Collection of H.G. Wells (acquired in 2010) and the Russell Wood Collection of H.G. Wells (acquired in 2023). It also includes a wooden servants call box from Spade House (the Wells' family home from 1901-1909) and letters from Wells to his publisher, J.M. Dent, in the 1890s. There is also a Digital Collection of selected short fiction as it originally appeared in Victorian and Edwardian magazines, and a selection of digitized letters written by and to H.G. Wells from the Korn and Wood Collections.

Why do archival exhibitions matter? Because they "allow a new generation of students, scholars and enthusiasts to trace the development of Wells' thinking and creativity," notes Annie Murray, Exhibition Curator. "We can relate to someone who finds themselves living at a moment of nearly overwhelming information abundance, scientific possibility, and deep cultural anxieties."
Take a time machine back to fin de siècle London to see the future as Wells imagined it. 

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Exhibition Events:

Curator's Exhibition Tour
April 16 at 1pm
Nickle Galleries

H.G. Wells - Living the 90's Dream
Nickle at Noon Talk
April 18 at 12pm
Nickle Galleries

Curator's Exhibition Tour
May 9 at 1pm
Nickle Galleries

Curator's Exhibition Tour
June 13 at 1pm
Nickle Galleries

Curator's Exhibition Tour
July 9 at 1pm
Nickle Galleries

H.G. Wells Digital Collection

The exhibition is organized by Archives and Special Collections with support from Nickle Galleries. 
Curated by Annie Murray, Rare Books and Special Collections Librarian. 

Image credit: "H.G. Wells” by Elliott & Fry, 1901. Used with the permission of the National Portrait Gallery, London.