The question is: ´Have you ever had that moment?´ You might be sitting at your desk, cooking tea for your kids, driving to work – and suddenly you think ‘Is this it? Is this all there is?’ It is at this precise moment that we crash land into the life of one Mr. Alfred Polly: draper, dreamer and general discontent.
H.G. Wells’ "The History of Mr. Polly" traces the back-story of Mr Polly and just how he got into the ‘Beastly Silly Wheeze’ of his current predicament. At the age of 37 (the Edwardian version of middle age) Polly is tired of his dead-end job as a draper and his nagging wife, Miriam. He sits on the edge of bankruptcy and decides the only solution is to burn down his shop and kill himself. However, things don’t exactly go to plan and Polly is given a new chance at life. But can he really change?
Wells’ novel falls squarely into two sections; Polly’s past and just how he became an unhappy and unfulfilled married draper, and the path he takes after burning down his shop. Widely regarded as Wells’ funniest novel, it is also his most affectionate. In addition, the book bears a strong resemblance to Wells’ own background as a bored lower class draper yet, unlike Polly, Wells was fortunate enough to be extracted from this bleak existence by the 1870 Universal Education Act. This government programme offered Wells a narrow opening into higher education and the professions, saving him from a life of drudgery.