Herbert George Wells, the son of a shopkeeper and a lady's maid, was born in Kent in 1866. A bookish child, his education was interrupted when he served a brief and gruelling apprenticeship to a draper. But Wells then went on to study biology under the great T. H. Huxley, before finding instant literary success in 1895 with the publication of his first 'scientific romance', The Time Machine. This was followed in quick succession by The Island of Dr Moreau, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds. A visionary and lifelong socialist, Wells also wrote extensively on social issues, history and science. He died in 1946.