George Orwell, H. G. Wells, H.G. Wells, Lesley A. Hall, Lesley Hall, plenary speaker, utopia, wells
We are pleased to announce that conference’s second keynote will be at 4.30pm on Saturday 9 July in the Kemp Room:
Dr Lesley A. Hall (Wellcome Library Research Fellow/Honorary Senior Lecturer, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London)
“Open Conspirators: Endeavouring to Manifest the Wellsian Utopia”
For several decades H.G. Wells was an iconic figure in British culture. His vast correspondence now at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reveals the wide-ranging impact of his thought upon individuals in all walks of life, who were inspired by his visions of a better society. Several organisations were set up with the intention of working towards the kind of utopia Wells had delineated. Some of the ways in which individuals and organisations engaged with Wells and his ideas and tried to bring his utopia into existence are explored. Wells’s own ambivalence to such projects will also be considered, and so will the accusation by George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier that what he proposed was “the paradise of little fat men”.
Lesley A. Hall, FRHistS, is a Wellcome Library Research Fellow and Honorary Senior Lecturer University College London.
She has published extensively on questions of gender and sexuality in the UK from the nineteenth century onwards, including the much-used textbook Sex, Gender and Social Change in Britain since 1880 (2nd edition 2012), and is currently engaged in investigating interwar progressive individuals and movements. In connection with this she was awarded a John ‘Bud’ Velde Fellowship of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to undertake research in the Wells correspondence held there, and has already published two papers emerging from this extremely rich resource: ‘An ambiguous idol: HG Wells inspiring and infuriating women’ in The Wellsian no 34, special Ann Veronica issue, and ‘”A city that we shall never find”? The search for a community of fellow progressive spirits in the UK between the wars’, Family and Community History Vol 18.
She is also very interested in science fiction, has written a brief study of Naomi Mitchison, gave the George Hay Memorial Lecture of the Science Fiction Foundation in 2012, and been a judge for the Tiptree and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. Her website is www.lesleyahall.net, her blog is lesleyahall.blogspot.co.uk, she tweets as @erinacean, and she has a profile on academia.edu.
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