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About the book
  • Published: 20 April 2005
  • ISBN: 9780141441078
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $19.99

The History Of Mr Polly


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Mr Polly is an ordinary middle-aged man who is tired of his wife's nagging and his dreary job as the owner of a regional gentleman's outfitters. Faced with the threat of bankruptcy, he concludes that the only way to escape his frustrating existence is by burning his shop to the ground, and killing himself. Unexpected events, however, conspire at the last moment to lead the bewildered Mr Polly to a bright new future - after he saves a life, fakes his death, and escapes to a life of heroism, hope and ultimate happiness.

  • Pub date: 20 April 2005
  • ISBN: 9780141441078
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Authors

H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells, the third son of a small shopkeeper, was born in Bromley in 1866. After two years' apprenticeship in a draper's shop, he became a pupil-teacher at Midhurst Grammar School and won a scholarship to study under T. H. Huxley at the Normal School of Science, South Kensington. He taught biology before becoming a professional writer and journalist. He wrote more than a hundred books, including novels, essays, histories and programmes for world regeneration.

Wells, who rose from obscurity to world fame, had an emotionally and intellectually turbulent life. His prophetic imagination was first displayed in pioneering works of science fiction such as The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897) and The War of the Worlds (1898). Later he became an apostle of socialism, science and progress, whose anticipations of a future world state include The Shape of Things to Come (1933). His controversial views on sexual equality and women's rights were expressed in the novels Ann Veronica (1909) and The New Machiavelli (1911). He was, in Bertrand Russell's words, 'an important liberator of thought and action'.

Wells drew on his own early struggles in many of his best novels, including Love and Mr Lewisham (1900), Kipps (1905), Tono-Bungay (1909) and The History of Mr Polly (1910). His educational works, some written in collaboration, include The Outline of History (1920) and The Science of Life (1930). His Experiment in Autobiography (2 vols., 1934) reviews his world. He died in London in 1946.

H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells was born in Bromley, Kent, in 1866. After an education repeatedly interrupted by his family’s financial problems, he eventually found work as a teacher at a succession of schools, where he began to write his first stories.
Wells became a prolific writer with a diverse output, of which the famous works are his science fiction novels. These are some of the earliest and most influential examples of the genre, and include classics such as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds. Most of his books very well-received, and had a huge influence on many younger writers, including George Orwell and Isaac Asimov. Wells also wrote many popular non-fiction books, and used his writing to support the wide range of political and social causes in which he had an interest, although these became increasingly eccentric towards the end of his life.
Twice-married, Wells had many affairs, including a ten-year liaison with Rebecca West that produced a son. He died in London in 1946.

John Sutherland

John Sutherland is Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature at University College London and previously taught at the California Institute of Technology. He writes regularly for the Guardian, The Times and the New York Times, and is the author of many books including Curiosities of Literature, Is Henry V a War Criminal? (with Cedric Watts), biographies of Walter Scott, Stephen Spender and the Victorian elephant Jumbo, and The Boy Who Loved Books, a memoir.


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