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biography on H.G. Wells focuses on late-life loves
Forrest, News Editor
(217) 244-1072; firstname.lastname@example.org
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. That
H.G. Wells' intelligence was rivaled only by his appetite for women
has never been a secret.
That he had concurrent clandestine love affairs late in his life with
American women 26 to 40 years his junior has been until now.
A new biography reveals the secrets of the writers heart, the
desires of his soul and the frustrations of his professional and personal
life. It also explores the role of liberated love and self-serving romance
among celebrities and the literati in the 1930s.
In "Shadow Lovers: The Last Affairs of H.G. Wells" (Westview
Press), Andrea Lynn draws upon hundreds of previously suppressed documents
culled from around the globe to explore the private world of the prolific
author and of the three exotic women femmes fatales, all
he wooed in his sunset years.
Using love letters and suppressed pages from Wells' autobiographical
love story, Lynn, a writer for the University of Illinois news service,
reveals the identities of the two American lovers, concealed for decades
by the Wells executors: Constance Coolidge, a Boston Brahmin, American
expatriate and French countess, and Martha Gellhorn, a feisty writer
and war correspondent who later married Ernest Hemingway.
Lynn also unravels Wells' exasperating relationship with his last lover,
the enigmatic Russian Baroness Moura Budberg, a purported spy so masterful
at deception she remained a mysterious figure even to her children.
Dubbed "a superman" in his Aug. 14, 1946, obituary in the
New York Times, Wells was an influential historian, science fiction
writer, social critic and futurist who wrote nearly 100 books and affected
world history for decades. But his uncontrollable lust and matters of
the heart troubled him most of his adult life.
In "Shadow Lovers," Lynn reviews Wells' private life, including
his more public relationships with Rebecca West and Margaret Sanger.
She also examines the personal and professional lives of Budberg, Coolidge
and Gellhorn, considered to be the most fascinating and intelligent
women of their time, and, like Wells, skilled players in the game of
Describing the author of "The Time Machine" as "something
of a sex machine," Lynn observes that Wells the proponent
of women's liberation, free love and socialism, who dreamed of a Utopian
society and also despaired that mankind was doomed to self-destruction
also was a hopeless romantic, with a "fatal attraction for
the wrong women."
In her book, Lynn considers various reasons for the bounteous love life
of the women and of the improbable lothario, who mockingly described
himself as the "Don Juan of the Intelligentsia." She offers
Wells up as a man entangled by romantic idealism, who leaped from lover
to lover in an obsessive quest to find his better half, his "lover-shadow."
Lynn interprets Wells as a man who was tortured by his working-class
origins, who pursued "trophy women" beautiful, rich
and well-bred enchantresses decades younger than he in a futile
attempt to gentrify himself and to make himself whole. But she also
turns her lens on the women who, for various reasons, maneuvered to
be with him.
In "Shadow Lovers," Lynn observes enormously gifted but flawed
people who struggled with their compulsions and their conflicting desires
for romantic attachment and unfettered independence. Wells could be
very human, indeed: a sometimes petulant, vindictive man who justified
his womanizing as retaliation for his lovers misdeeds. In the
end, "He was incapable of intimacy even with his intimates,"
Still, Lynn sees neither Wells nor his women as victims, maintaining
that all were equally capricious and adept at wielding their charms
to achieve their objectives.
"I say that there are no victims in these relationships, and I
truly believe that," Lynn said. "These people knew what they
were getting and giving, knew the rules of the game."
Much of the suppressed material was garnered from the UI Library, which
holds the worlds foremost H.G. Wells collection.