The redoubtable Henry James called H.G. Wells the most gifted writer of his age; but Wells, having coined the phrase "the war to end all war" to describe World War I, was becoming increasingly disillusioned with fiction. He embarked upon a massive project to outline nothing less than the entirety of human history, from the formation of the earth to modern times so as to remind mankind of its common past, provide it with a basis for international cooperation, and encourage the renunciation of war.
The Outline of History became a bestseller, selling more than 2 million copies in its initial publication. It was a massive work, published as a two-volume set in 1920.
Volume 1 begins with Genesis, and ends with Justinian the Great.
Volume 2 takes us from Muhammad all the way forward to the Treaty of Versailles, ending with a plea to no longer "tear out the hearts of men, even for the sake of our national gods."
HERBERT GEORGE "H. G." WELLS (1866–1946) was an English writer, best known for his work in science fiction. Often called "The Father of Science Fiction" along with Jules Verne, many of his visions of the future have already become reality, including genetic engineering (Island of Dr. Moreau), laser rays (The War of the Worlds), nuclear weapons/atomic bombs ((The World Set Free), tank warfare (The Land Ironclads), wireless personal communications/cell phones, (The Shape of Things To Come) email and voice mail (Men Like Gods) and the moon landing (First Men on the Moon). Living until 1946, Wells witnessed a world more terrible than any of his imaginative visions, bitterly observing: "Reality has taken a leaf from my book and set itself to supersede me."