Autumn 2016 has arrived and we hope this warm summer has been enjoyable on Southsea seafront. Refurbishment to South Parade Pier continues and new restaurants and coffee shops have opened on the seafront. Try the new 'Coffee Cup' at the Eastney end of the beach, 'Courtyard' Coffee bar/ Restaurant inside Southsea Castle, plus several others. We have had the second year of Trials for the 'Americas Cup' in July, Kite Festival on the Common, The Thai Festival and Victorious Festival in August. Work is going on dredging the sea channel for larger naval ships arriving next year and tall navigation lights are being
installed. Always something to see, a seafront worth a visit.
H G WELLS.
“ Flash, bang, wallop!”
THE FIRST MODERN NOVEL AND SOUTHSEA.
To most people August 13th 2016 slipped by unnoticed, which is a pity because this year it marked the seventieth anniversary of the death of the man who is widely regarded as having written the first modern novel. The novel was ‘Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul’, its author was H G Wells and his time spent in Southsea provided him with inspiration.
Interestingly, slightly more than a month later, September 21st, marked the 150th anniversaryof Wells’s birth.
Herbert George Wells was born on September 21st 1866, in Bromley, Kent and died in Woking on August 13th 1946. He was a prolific writer who is best known for his science fiction works: The Time Machine (1895), The Island of
Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man
(1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898) and he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in
Literature an astonishing four times. However,
it is the novel, Kipps, that provides the link with Southsea .
In 1877, the Wells family fell on hard times. His mother found work at Uppark House, South Harting and in 1880 he signed his indentures and became an apprentice draper at Edwin Hyde’s Drapery Emporium which was located at 42Kings Road which, until 1870, had been known as Wish Lane. Unfortunately the shop
no longer exists; it has been replaced by a block of flats, the result of an air raid in January 1941 when almost every building in Kings Road was destroyed along with most of Palmerston Road.
Wells’s apprenticeship lasted from 1881 to
1883 and he regarded those years as the
unhappiest of his life. However he drew on his experiences during his time as a drapers
apprentice in Southsea when composing the
semi-autobiographical novel, ‘Kipps’.
Kipps was published in 1905. It became very a popular novel and was made into a film starring Michael Redgrave in 1941. It’s popularity endured and in 1963 it was turned into a musical production for the stage, Half a Sixpence. After a long run in London the show enjoyed another in New York on Broadway and was such a success that 1967 saw it released as a film which starred Tommy Steele. The shows enduring popularity saw it revived recently at Chichester Festival Theatre where it ran for two months, ending on September 3rd of this
It’s interesting to note that while Wells was suffering as an apprentice draper, just a hundred yards or so further along the road another famous writer, Arthur Conan Doyle, practised as a doctor in his surgery at Bush Villas from 1882-90. Bush Villas was located at the junction of Grove Road North and Elm Grove but it too
perished during the war.
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