Mr Polly is an ordinary middle-aged man who is tired of his wife's nagging and his dreary job as the owner of a regional gentleman's outfitters. Faced with the threat of bankruptcy, he concludes that the only way to escape his frustrating existence is by burning his shop to the ground, and killing himself. Unexpected events, however, conspire at the last moment to lead the bewildered Mr Polly to a bright new future after he saves a life, fakes his death, and escapes to a life of heroism, hope and ultimate happiness.
H.G. Wells was a professional writer and journalist, who published more than a hundred books, including novels, histories, essays and programmes for world regeneration. Wells's prophetic imagination was first displayed in pioneering works of science fiction, but later he became an apostle of socialism, science and progress. His controversial views on sexual equality and the shape of a truly developed nation remain directly relevant to our world today. He was, in Bertrand Russell's words, 'an important liberator of thought and action'. John Sutherland is the Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London and a visiting professor of Literature at the California Institute of Technology. He is the author of many books. Simon J. James is Lecturer in Victorian Literature at the University of Durham. He has written on, and edited volumes of, George Gissing, H.G. Wells and Charles Dickens.