WELLS, H.G. (1866-1946). Autograph letter signed to Count Benckendorff, 52 St James's Court, London, n.d. [late 1914], 4 pages, 8vo (slight marking on first page). Provenance. By descent to Count Constantine Benckendorff.
A characteristically 'direct and undiplomatic' letter to the Russian ambassador to London. Wells expresses his concern at sentiment in Britain 'opposed to the war and opposed to it on the ground that we are fighting for Russia', comments on his own efforts to 'check this tide' and suggests that 'if some well known Russian writer & revolutionary such as Gorky, could be induced to make an utterance in favour of the war it could produce an immense effect ...'. He asks if Benckendorff could translate a letter or telegram to Gorky, and assures him that 'We liberal minded people do all most earnestly believe this is the dawn of a new era not ony (sic) for Russia but for the whole world'.
Wells went to Russia for the first time at the end of 1913, and was to become its most prominent advocate and interpreter in Britain. He and Maxim Gorky had been acquainted since 1906, though a closer friendship did not develop until after Wells's visit to Russia in 1920.
Count Alexander Constantinovich Benckendorff was the last Tsarist ambassador to London; he died in office in 1917. Both he and Wells were friends of Maurice Baring, and Wells mentions in a postscript that they had met at a 'memorable house-warming' thrown by Baring.