In the late nineteen eighties, a magazine called New Woman hit the shelves in the U.K. Less political than empowering, the magazine positioned itself as a publication for women who were confident, independent and perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. The magazine's name was actually a tribute to the New Woman movement of the late nineteenth century. The movement influenced feminism; the term referred to independent women wanting radical and immediate change, and an end to the patriarchal society to which they were subjected. The movement was championed by many of the leading writers of the day, including Henrik Ibsen, Henry James and H.G. Wells.
Ann Veronica is considered the forgotten fiction of H.G. Wells; it tells the story of a feminist rebellion, as the eponymous protagonist Ann Veronica strikes out against her father's middle class, draconian patriarchal home where she is treated like a child, even though she is actually a grown woman of twenty two. Wells based the character on his lover, Amber Reeves, a feminist writer and scholar. Wells also gives the reader a positive glimpse of the suffrage movement in Great Britain, and includes a real-life incident in the book; in 1908, the Suffragettes attempted to storm the British Parliament. The interweaving of fictional and real-life events was very effective in driving home the lack of power over their own lives that women had at the time.
The novel was controversial at the time and also caused a sensation because of its feminist agenda. The Spectator derided the novel, accusing it of being inflammatory, and capable of influencing the way women thought. Feminism was a terrifying concept for the status quo-loving society at the time and Wells' book became divisive and scandalous.
In 1952, British film star Margaret Lockwood played the title role in the television adaptation of the novel.
H.G. Wells was a British writer considered a futurist, and he was also an outspoken social critic who used his literary talents to further causes he believed to be important. His most famous works, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds all earned him Nobel Prize for Literature nominations. Winston Churchill borrowed phrases from Wells for his earliest speech as Prime Minister, describing the rise of Nazi Germany using words used by Wells inThe War of the Worlds in which Britain is invaded by an alien army. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, was inspired by his 1940 work The Rights of Man, and although he never got to see this happen - he passed away in 1946 - the declaration was considered validation of his political and social activism.