Wells was born in Bromley, Kent. He was tutor for two years at the University Tutorial College but ill health caused him to abandon teaching and take up a career as a writer.
He was a pioneer of science fiction with such novels as The Time Machine (1895) and The War of the Worlds (1898) (describing a Martian invasion of Earth), which brought him nationwide recognition.
His later novels had an anti-establishment, anticonventional humour remarkable in its day, for example Kipps (1905) and Tono-Bungay (1909). He was originally a Fabian (member of a socialist organization that sought reform), and later he became a Labour party supporter. He was a Labour candidate for London University in 1921 and 1922.