The Young H.G. Wells is a biography that takes biology seriously. This is partly because H.G. Wells was a biologist before he became a writer of science fiction (his first publication was A Text Book on Biology, which he illustrated himself), but also because Claire Tomalin is alert to the life of the body as well as the mind. In her hands, Wells’s youth was less about his rise from the lower classes to become the wealthy socialist who predicted the airplane, the tank and the atomic bomb than about the rise of his weight. There is never a point in these pages when we are not told what numbers Wells saw when he stood on the bathroom scales, or reminded of the connection between his physical evolution and his evolution as a writer.