Friday, January 15

War of Words: HG Wells Coin Also Includes Fake Quote | HG Wells

It is a mystery that the HG Wells characters would have been quick to jump in, but one that would certainly have infuriated the annoying Wells himself: what is the origin of the quote chosen by the Royal Mint and attributed to him on the new Wells £ 2 coin. ?

Intended to commemorate 75 years since the author’s death, the coin has already been criticized for depicting the “monstrous tripod” that appears in War of the Worlds with a fourth leg, and for giving its Invisible Man a hat. cup, which the character never used. Then Wells expert Professor Simon James discovered the quote chosen for the edge of the coin: “Good books are storehouses of ideas.” James and his academic colleague Adam Roberts, vice president of the Wells Society, could not find such a quote in Wells’s writings, although it is attributed to him on several inspirational dating websites.

Wells is one of those authors who is often mentioned as the author of fabricated or misattributed quotes on the Internet; there is a notorious about seeing a human being riding a bicycle for which neither I nor any other Wells scholar have been able to identify a source, ”said James. “Surely the Royal Mint has not taken a quote from the net without verifying the source … right?”

Author Eleanor Fitzsimons solved the mystery. He tried searching Wells’s writings for a quote with “warehouses” and found an approximation in his obscure work. Select conversations with an uncle (now defunct) and two other reminiscences. However, that quote is not what appears on the coin: it says: “Good books are the storehouse of ideals.”

“I love solving literary mysteries,” said Fitzsimons, whose biography The Life and Loves of E Nesbit features an appearance by Wells; Nesbit taught his fellow author to play badminton and he seduced his daughter.

Unfortunately for the Royal Mint, Wells’s quote is not only inaccurate, but the actual sentiments expressed are likely far from what the author intended. The words are spoken by a character who believes that ideals should be hidden in books, and goes on to say that “there is a time for ideals, and a time when they are best left out of the way.”

“The correct quote is not Wells speaking in his own voice, but in the voice of a character whose opinion definitely cannot always be trusted. English academics encourage our students to revise the original source when they can; Too bad the Royal Mint didn’t think about doing it before they produced all these coins that were missing a letter, ”said James, adding that Wells had a dislike for the 19th. notions of the century of high culture: “It would have been all for people who read The Republic or The Origin of Species or Wells’s own work … [but] the notion of ‘books are wonderful’ would make your blood boil. “

The error echoes an earlier Royal Mint literary error: Jane Austen’s £ 10 banknote was printed with the quote: “I declare that there is no pleasure like reading after all!” – a line spoken not by Austen but by her character Caroline Bingley, who has no interest in books.

When asked about the source of its listing, the Royal Mint told The Guardian that “good books are the storehouse of ideas” was “widely associated with HG Wells.”

His four-legged tripod, meanwhile, is “an interpretation of the various machines in The War of the Worlds,” and the invisible man “wears a Victorian top hat to signify the time.”

He added that all issues considered for Royal Mint coins go through a planning and design selection process governed by an independent panel known as the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, which includes experts in art, heraldry, typography, sculpture, history and numismatics. He did not mention that any literary expert had been consulted.

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