11 October 2002
WELLS, H.G. (1866-1946). The Island of Doctor Moreau. London: Heinemann, 1896.
8o. Frontispiece illustration, 32-page publisher's advertisments at end. Original pictorial cloth (minor rubbing to covers). Provenance: Joseph Wells, the author's father (presentation inscription).
FIRST EDITION. AN INTIMATE FAMILY PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY WELLS TO HIS FATHER: "Joseph Wells with affectionate regards from his Son, the author."
Herbert George Wells was the fourth child of Sarah and Joseph Wells, a lower class couple working as domestic servants for a Bromley family. H.G. Wells revered his father, who shared his son's embarrassment over the family's status as household help. The self-educated patriarch "had a taste for reading and would go to sales to pick up a cheap lot of books whenever opportunity offered" (Wells page V). H.G. learned his love of literature at his father's knee. Wells' biographer commented: "... from Joe Wells... came the individual ironic style, the imagination, the tendency to dream, that were to mark the son. It was Joe Wells who brought home books borrowed from the Literary Institute, and who talked to his son about the stars, and worlds that might lie beyond this one..." (Lovat Dickinson H.G. Wells: His Turbulent Life and Times, New York, 1969, p.8).
Contemporary reviewers expressed a marked distaste for Dr. Moreau, a perverted scientist who used his surgical skill to turn animals into semi-human beings. An anonymous reviewer wrote in The Times of June 17, 1896: "We feel bound to expostulate against a departure which may lead we know not whither, and to give a word of warning to the unsuspecting who would shrink from the loathsome and repulsive... The book should be kept out of the way of young people and avoided by all who have taste, good feeling, or feeble nerves." Wells 7.
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