Mr Hoopdriver is an overworked Londoner who spends most every day servilely waiting on customers at his job as a drapers assistant. When it comes time for his annual holiday, he decides to put his newfound skills on a bicycle to the test by going on a ten-day cycling trip to the southern coast of England. A routine trip is turned upside down, however, when Hoopdriver crosses paths with Jessie, a young lady fleeing the constraints of conventional Victorian womanhood. The two cyclists eventually join up and try to help each other find a brighter future. Written at the height of the late-19th century bicycle craze and rich in geographical detail of southern England, The Wheels of Chance is a captivating portrayal of two people attempting to break free of the dreary life society has carved out for them. The novel is also among Wellss funniest works, rivalling his other comedic masterpieces such as Kipps and The History of Mr Polly. Using a copy text of the 1925 Atlantic edition of the novel, this edition includes a full introduction providing historical context on the novel and biographical information on Wells, a further reading list, detailed notes, a map of Hoopdrivers journey, a selection of contemporary reviews, and excerpts of letters by Wells relevant to the novel. The work has been specially prepared for student engagement and classroom use.
Jeremy Withers is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Iowa State University. His previous publications include Culture on Two Wheels: The Bicycle in Literature and Film (edited with Daniel P. Shea, University of Nebraska Press) and The War of the Wheels: H. G. Wells and the Bicycle (Syracuse University Press).