In the Darwin Conference Centre (which had everything except air-conditioning) we heard superb plenaries from Gwyneth Jones (on The Island of Doctor Moreau) and John Huntington (on the centenary of The History of Mr Polly), together with a long list of fascinating papers. The auction of Wells titles from Michael Foot’s library on the opening day raised over £300 for the Society, following the launch of Michael Sherborne’s Wells biography Another Kind of Life. Mike spoke again on the final day, discovering (or was it inventing?) a new 20th-century classic: Tono-Gatsby. Finally John Hammond recalled the first 50 years of the H. G. Wells Society and initiated a discussion of our future activities. The happy few with Sunday afternoon to spare took the coach to Folkestone, where we scrambled down the cliff path to Sandgate for Paul Allen’s expert commentary on Wells’s various houses, the Sea Lady, Mr Polly’s attempt to burn down the High Street, and much else. Finally we struggled back up the cliff to the Grand Hotel on the Leas for a scrumptious Edwardian Tea.
Wellsians who missed out on the Tea (or who simply want another helping) may visit the Grand during the Folkestone H. G. Wells Festival (17-19 September). In the autumn we will be inaugurating a new series of regular London meetings at the Holloway Road campus of London Metropolitan University, when Michael Sherborne will speak at 6.30pm on Thursday 21 October on “How to Read H. G. Wells”. See you there!
Click here for the original programme.