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The Picshuas of H. G. Wells

A Burlesque Diary

Recovering and analyzing Wells' amazing wealth of sketches and caricatures

H. G. Wells (1866-1946) was a literary lion throughout his career, publishing more than one hundred books, including classics such as War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Time Machine. Though best remembered for his science fiction, Wells was also a prolific sketcher who frequently enlivened his correspondence and marginalia with cartoons. Those drawings made for his companion Amy Catherine Robbins, which he called "picshuas," allowed him a vehicle for his nuanced self-expression and satire. Gene K. Rinkel and Margaret E. Rinkel's The Picshuas of H. G. Wells interprets these highly original cartoons through an analysis of their peculiar content and style based on Wells's life and writings.

The picshuas are perhaps the best demonstration of Wells's piquant sense of humor. They provide intriguing snapshots of Wells's robust private life and convey his opinions about other writers and public figures as well as himself, whose rotund cartoon figure he sometimes lampooned as "the Great Author." Using a narrative style of creative nonfiction, The Picshuas of H. G. Wells weaves facts from Wells's life with incidents reflected in the cartoons, episodes drawn from his novels, and scenes from other writings to provide glimpses into his moments of his personal and professional conflict and triumph. There emerges a fascinating and funny portrait of a complex literary personality and his complicated relationship with a devoted collaborator, his wife.

Some forty picshuas were published in Wells's Experiment in Autobiography, but the wide range of the pichsuas throughout his correspondence and private papers has never been surveyed and published until now. As an ensemble, they provide close look at the Great Author in his most joyous and uninhibited moments, laughing at himself and the world.


"An informative, delightful addition to scholarship on H.G. Wells."--Choice

"The Picshuas of H. G. Wells is a rare delight, the account of a celebrated novelist's second marriage, told through his private cartoons, with abundant and helpful commentary by the Rinkels. I have always prized Wells's skills as a sketch artist, and the idea of documenting the full range of his achievements in this genre is inspired. The supporting text serves this project admirably, and the prose is vigorous, colorful, and at times positively Wellsian. The warm enthusiasm of the authors for their subject cannot be missed."--Dr. John S. Partington, Editor, The Wellsian

"H. G. Wells's dynamic and varied career often reflected his complex personality and personal life. His habit of drawing picshuas has been well known for decades, though few have attempted to organize and contextualize the cartoons until now. With The Picshuas of H. G. Wells, the Rinkels have opened a new and wholly fascinating frontier for Wellsians and historians to consider when researching the man behind the pen. H. G. Wells's picshuas are no longer only the stuff of footnotes."--Charles Keller, director of the H. G. Wells Society, the Americas


Gene K. Rinkel is the curator of special collections and an associate professor of library administration at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Margaret E. Rinkel is a former high school English teacher with a lifelong interest in sketching and writing.

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