Archives tell of Wells's war on radio world

As one of the most prominent writers of his day, HG Wells's regular BBC addresses captivated the nation.

But private letters revealed for the first time show how the novelist had to be repeatedly cajoled into trying his hand at mass communication.

At one stage Wells, whose novels included The War Of The Worlds and The Time Machine, was offered a "wireless" by the BBC, but he declined.

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The correspondence is revealed in a new set of documents in the online BBC Archive, to coincide with a new BBC4 adaptation of The First Men In The Moon, which will be screened tomorrow.

Wells was already a noted public figure by the time he turned to broadcasting.

In one letter from June 1929, the BBC's "Director of Talks" Hilda Matheson – a former MI5 worker – asks him: "Is there any chance that you would be willing to go on the air, as they say in America, on July 5th or 10th for half an hour?

"It is most awfully important just now, at this moment, that you should say yes, because the stars in their courses are favourable and there is a breath of greater freedom in the wind. I would like to see you about it if I might? Could I come and see you soon and discuss subjects and the rest?

"It is fun to address twelve million or so British Islanders and some dozens of millions of Europeans in one breath – I do assure you it is. You will be bound to enjoy the full possibilities of broadcasting sooner or later - only why not sooner?"

Another letter sent five days later thanks him for agreeing to talk about world peace, a speech based on Wells's address to the German government, at the Reichstag in April of that year.

The BBC Archive collection also includes some of the broadcasts made by Wells in the 1930s and 1940s.

In one he rails against the unreliability of the Press, claims the newspaper is dead and suggests phones may take their place. You can use your iPhone to see if you agree with him at www.bbc.co.uk/archive