HG Wells on the Future | BBC broadcasts from the father of science fiction
BBC ARCHIVE DOCUMENT 1929
14th June, 1929
H.G. Wells, Esq.,
St. Ermin's Hotel,
Dear Mr. Wells,
Have you got a guilty conscience? I hope so. But for the charity of Mr. Bertrand Russell I should have been driven to heaven knows what desperate courses to raise my fare home!
I have always felt it to be pretty devastating that an internationalist like yourself - perhaps you are the only real internationalist? - shouldn't be making use of the most international means of communication there is. Things haven't been easy for us so long as we are under the thumb of Post Master Generals and people. But now that we manage our own concerns as a Corporation it really is worth something.
Is there any chance that you would be willing to go on the air, as they say in America, on July 5th or 10th for half an hour? It is most awfully important just now, at this moment, that you should say yes, because the stars in their courses are favourable and there is a breath of greater freedom in the wind. I would like to see you about it if I might? Could I come and see you soon and discuss subjects and the rest? It is fun to address twelve million or so British Islanders and some dozens of millions of Europeans in one breath - I do assure you it is. You will be bound to enjoy the full possibilities of broadcasting sooner or later - only why not sooner?
This isn't an official letter, so I shall here tell you how very much I enjoyed the party and how grateful I am to Eileen Power for asking me to meet you.
H.M. [hand-written signature of Hilda Matheson.]
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Document Type | Letter
14 June 1929
In this letter to the celebrated writer and social commentator, the BBC's first Director of Talks, Hilda Matheson, encourages HG Wells to use the power of radio to communicate with '12 million or so British Islanders and some dozens of millions of Europeans all in one breath'.
Wells had previously refused many similar invitations from the BBC, but the Corporation was so keen to have him that, on one occasion, it even offered to provide him with a 'wireless set' to help familiarise himself with this new technology. The offer was declined.
In 1927, Hilda Matheson was head-hunted by the BBC's first Director General, Lord Reith, to take charge of the new radio 'Talks Section'. Matheson had previously worked for MI5 and also as Lady Astor's political secretary. She was responsible for bringing many key thinkers of the day to the microphone, including George Bernard Shaw and Vita Sackville-West, who later became her lover.
HG Wells on the failings of Stalin's economic 'Five Year Plan'.
Our economic and political lives are 'out of gear'.
How the motor car serves as a warning to us all.
HG Wells challenges the idea of 'Britain for the British'.
A talk on the worldwide community of English speakers.
HG Wells welcomes the former president of Czechoslovakia.
How the printed word has reached the world's entire population.
HG Wells declares that it's time to 'face up to your inheritance'.
The newspaper is 'dead as mutton', says HG Wells.
An invitation to HG Wells to go on air for the first time.
HG Wells agrees to speak about world peace.
Wells reassures the BBC that his broadcast will be objective.
Will HG Wells's broadcast require 'toning down'?
Preparations for a broadcast by HG Wells.
Concerns that Wells has not submitted a manuscript go right to the top.
Wells makes a commitment to objectivity.
Wells responds to an invitation to speak about evolution.
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