H. G. Wells and Bernard Shaw: Socialism and the Irrational


Saturday 23 September 2017


London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2


Close friends and – at times – bitter rivals, H. G. Wells and Bernard Shaw stood in the public mind for the belief that men and women could be persuaded by rational argument to support Fabian socialism, scientific and industrial development, and world citizenship. They took up controversial and often conflicting positions on internationalism and revolution (especially the Russian revolution), war, feminism, democracy, human rights, and much else. But there are limits to rationalism in both writers' thought.


 One hundred years ago, Wells published God the Invisible King (a book that he later partially repudiated) and The Soul of a Bishop; some time afterwards, he became embroiled in controversy with representatives of the Catholic Church. In the early 1920s Shaw wrote Back to Methusaleh and Saint Joan, plays which (in the words of one current reference book) demonstrate their author's 'essentially religious nature'. Meanwhile the world struggled to come to terms with the devastation caused by the Great War, some women over 30 gained the vote in the Representation of the People Act, 1918, and new and apocalyptic political movements were emerging across Europe.  


 This one-day conference invites papers on any aspect of politics, religion and philosophy in the works of Wells and/or Shaw. We would welcome a variety of approaches to these and interrelated topics, from boxing to the Shavian alphabet, across a number of disciplines.

This conference is jointly organised by the H. G. Wells Society, the Shaw Society, and the Language Centre, LSE, in association with the Women’s Library.



Please send proposals (max. 250 words) outlining your proposed topic and its relevance of to the overall subject of the conference to Patrick Parrinder ( or

Emelyne Godfrey( by Friday 26th May.  


Conference registration details will be available shortly.  




Call for Papers