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Born in Kent, England to poor parents, H. G. Wells was apprenticed to a draper at age 14. Fired, he bounced from job to job, and at age 18 he went to college and became a pupil of scientist Thomas Henry Huxley, the greatest influence on his life. After two troubled marriages, Wells began publishing his novels and grew very wealthy; his first novel, THE TIME MACHINE, was followed by approximately a book a year. He was described by his paramour Rebecca West as "practically off his head, enormously vain, irascible, and in a fantasy world." He died in 1946, one month from his 80th birthday. His influence on other authors is incalculable.