Columbia Library columns (v.39(1989Nov-1990May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



Jump to page:

Table of Contents

  v.39,no.3(1990:May): Page 10  


Not Merely a Novelist

H. G. Wells's Relations with
Paul Reynolds


eorge Bernard Shaw once proclaimed to H. G. Wells, with
.no false modesty: "This is the age of us." It was the good

fortune ofthe pioneer New York literary agent Paul Revere
Reynolds to have numbered both of these popular, colorful, and
versatile men of letters among his English clients. jEor Shaw, see
Columns, May 1989.] The first letter from the extensive Wells-
Reynolds correspondence housed in the Rare Book and Manuscript
Library is dated September 20, 1905, and is addressed to various
lecture bureaus in the East and the Midwest:

Mr. Wells, as you know, is a man whose work has attracted the same
attention as that of Jules Verne, as it combines a knowledge of
modern science with a brilliant scientific imagination. He is not by
any means merely a novelist, but is one of the most original and
valueable [sic] forces now at work in the realm of speculative

Ten years earlier, Reynolds had acted as American distributor of
Wells's devolutionary fantasy The Island of Dr. Moreau, representing
the author's English publisher, Heinemann. At this time Wells,
looking ahead to his forthcoming first trip to America, where he
hoped to expand his markets, approached Reynolds directly to
secure lucrative lecture engagements for him. Not surprisingly,
although Wells by now was best known for his sagas of outer space,
Reynolds made more of his author as polymath: "You understand
that Mr. Wells is one of the brightest writers at present before the
public," he wrote to a Mr. Glass of the Pond Lyceum Bureau in
New York City (December 6, 1905).

This effort to package Wells as a Jules Verne, Thomas Henry
Huxley, and Herbert Spencer rolled into one did not succeed. Wells

  v.39,no.3(1990:May): Page 10