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Writer H.G. Wells' Chronicled Early Soviet Russia

9. December 2009 by Daniel 0 Comments

While he was known for his science fiction, accailamed writer H.G. Wells had a diverse career that also included historical works and contemporary journalism.

A noted socialist from a lower-middle class British family, Wells spent two weeks in 1920 visiting Russia and making an account of his experiences and views in a series of articles for the newspaper The Sunday Express; later collected in a book he would title “Russia in the Shadows”. An anti-Marxist socialist, the “War of the Worlds” author approached the project with a cynical eye. He focused a great deal on the way the First World War had damaged the infrastructure of the Russian Republic and the Bolshevik majority that now controlled much of the former empire.

Wells also had the opportunity to meet and converse with many of the leaders of the Revolution, including Maxim Gorky and even Vladimir Lenin himself. Wells noted "Lenin has a pleasant, quick-changing, brownish face, with a lively smile and a habit (due perhaps to some defect in focusing) of screwing up one eye as he pauses in his talk; he is not very like the photographs you see of him because he is one of those people whose change of expression is more important than their features..."

Wells seemed to be impressed with Lenin, and seemed to see him having the potential to create the sort of society that Wells saw as being ideal. He indicated about Joseph Stalin in New Statesman magazine, "I have never met a man more fair, candid, and honest" and would interview him for more than 3 hours in 1939.

Wells died at age 79 in 1946.