From the TLS:
"Self-made” simply isn’t a strong enough term for H. G. Wells, as
Michael Sherborne’s authoritative new Life makes very clear. His
father was an unsuccessful shopkeeper in Bromley, Kent; his mother a
lady’s maid who had to return to service as the family got gradually
poorer. Lack of money meant that Bertie’s formal education was delayed
until a few months before his eighth birthday and ended soon after his
thirteenth: the next year he was expected to teach other children,
some bigger than him, at a National School in Wookey. Lessons
consisted of “whatever occurred” to the teenager, punctuated by hand-
to-hand combat, as Wells recalled in his autobiography: “I fought my
class, hit them about viciously and had altogether a lot of trouble
Wells was put to several apprenticeships and seemed fated to replicate
his father’s life in trade, either as a draper or a chemist. But he
was not prepared to leave his change of fortune to luck or accident.
There was a “game against life” which he was determined to win, and as
his lowly hero Mr Polly comes to realize in the novel, “If the world
does not please you, you can change it”. Wells read the Freethinker
and Malthusian in his lunch hour as a shop assistant and by studying
hard on his own and applying, secretly and successfully, for a
scholarship at the Normal School of Science in Kensington, gained
admission to a degree course and the inspirational teaching of T. H.
Huxley. He was soon caricaturing himself (in a cartoon sent to a
friend) as the author of books called “How I Saved the World”, “All
About God” and “Wells Design for a New Framework for Society”. By
1891, he had found a post as science teacher at the University
Correspondence College in London, a forerunner of the Open University,
but it was the minor disgrace of losing his job after an affair with
one of his students (whom he later married) that turned out to be his
big break, for it forced him to adopt the life he had always craved,
that of the full-time writer.
More at: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the...