Family:Herbert Wells and Cicely Fairfield (1)

Facts and Events
Other[1][2][3][4] Bet 1913 and 1923 Extramarital affair
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  1. Rebecca West, in H G Wells: Artist & Writer.

    "During his marriage to Amy, [H.G.] Wells had liaisons with a number of women. In 1914, [he had] a son, Anthony West (1914-1987), by the novelist and feminist Rebecca West, twenty-six years his junior."

  2. Rebecca West, in The Modernism Lab at Yale University.

    After West's review of Marriage, she was invited to lunch with Wells. She found him "one of the most interesting men I have ever met. He talked straight from 1.15 to 6.30 with immense vitality and a kind of hunger for ideas". By the autumn of 1913, they were lovers. In the early months of their affair, they were blissfully happy. He called her Panther and she called him Jaguar. These names quickly developed into "a private mythology in which Panther and Jaguar played in a secret erotic world". However, by the new year, Rebecca was unintentionally pregnant. Wells admitted it was his fault and assumed responsibility for Rebecca's health. He made plans for how she would live after the baby was born. She was to be Mrs. West and he would visit her as Mr. West. Wells found her lodgings in remote Norfolk, where she was isolated for the remainder of her pregnancy, until their son Anthony was born.

    West was far from unaware of the possibility of pregnancy. Two of her most impassioned articles for the Clarion, published months before she was Wells's mistress, concerned the inequitable and discriminatory treatment of unmarried mothers by society and the law. According to Glendinning, she had "no romantic illusions about the difficulties that faced both mother and child. An unmarried mother, [West] wrote, 'is the most outcast thing on earth' and an illegitimate child 'has a bad time before it'.". West would later regret being an unmarried mother. She felt that she was a disappointment to her mother, and she wished "that I could have made her happy by marrying early and never meeting H.G.".

    West and Wells's affair lasted for a turbulent ten years. Throughout the decade, Rebecca's family urged her to persuade Wells to either marry her or separate from her—an ultimatum that she repeatedly attempted to make. Wells would respond that he wanted them to continue their relationship as they were. It is unlikely that Wells would have ever married Rebecca and he continually rejected the suggestion that he should divorce Jane. Rebecca's relationship with H.G. slowly collapsed in 1923, with angry recriminations and reproaches, interrupted by occasional moments of tenderness and nostalgia for their ten-year love affair. However, in October 1923, Rebecca finally issued an ultimatum and then departed for the United States to give a lecture tour. As Wells conceded in his autobiography: "the effective break came from her".

    West commented extensively on drafts of a book about her relationship with Wells by Gordon N. Ray, H.G. Wells and Rebecca West (1974), and she prohibited Ray from interviewing Anthony. Throughout her life, she maintained a strong grip over any press that concerned her affair with Wells or their son Anthony, particularly because she regretted the liaison. She wanted her work to stand on its own, and not relative to Wells.

  3. Rebecca West letter to H.G. Wells, in Letters of Note: I refuse to be cheated out of my deathbed scene
    March 1913.

    In 1912, after she called him "the Old Maid of novelists" in a scathing review of his new book, Marriage, journalist and author Rebecca West met and fell in love with H. G. Wells. The often-explosive affair that resulted lasted for some months, until, in March of 1913, Wells — 26 years her senior and already a married man — broke off their relationship. West was distraught, and responded with the following intense letter. West didn't carry out her threat, and in fact they soon got back together. They had a son in 1914 and split up permanently 9 years later.

    March 1913

    Dear H. G.,

    During the next few days I shall either put a bullet through my head or commit something more shattering to myself than death. At any rate I shall be quite a different person. I refuse to be cheated out of my deathbed scene.

    I don't understand why you wanted me three months ago and don't want me now. I wish I knew why that were so. It's something I can't understand, something I despise. And the worst of it is that if I despise you I rage because you stand between me and peace. Of course you're quite right. I haven't anything to give you. You have only a passion for excitement and for comfort. You don't want any more excitement and I do not give people comfort. I never nurse them except when they're very ill. I carry this to excess. On reflection I can imagine that the occasion on which my mother found me most helpful to live with was when I helped her out of a burning house.

    I always knew that you would hurt me to death some day, but I hoped to choose the time and place. You've always been unconsciously hostile to me and I have tried to conciliate you by hacking away at my love for you, cutting it down to the little thing that was the most you wanted. I am always at a loss when I meet hostility, because I can love and I can do practically nothing else. I was the wrong sort of person for you to have to do with. You want a world of people falling over each other like puppies, people to quarrel and play with, people who rage and ache instead of people who burn. You can't conceive a person resenting the humiliation of an emotional failure so much that they twice tried to kill themselves: that seems silly to you. I can't conceive of a person who runs about lighting bonfires and yet nourishes a dislike of flame: that seems silly to me.

    You've literally ruined me. I'm burned down to my foundations. I may build myself again or I may not. You say obsessions are curable. They are. But people like me swing themselves from one passion to another, and if they miss smash down somewhere where there aren't any passions at all but only bare boards and sawdust. You have done for me utterly. You know it. That's why you are trying to persuade yourself that I am a coarse, sprawling, boneless creature, and so it doesn't matter. When you said, "You've been talking unwisely, Rebecca," you said it with a certain brightness: you felt that you had really caught me at it. I don't think you're right about this. But I know you will derive immense satisfaction from thinking of me as an unbalanced young female who flopped about in your drawing-room in an unnecessary heart-attack.

    That is a subtle flattery. But I hate you when you try to cheapen the things I did honestly and cleanly. You did it once before when you wrote to me of "your—much more precious than you imagine it to be—self." That suggests that I projected a weekend at the Brighton Metropole with Horatio Bottomley. Whereas I had written to say that I loved you. You did it again on Friday when you said that what I wanted was some decent fun and that my mind had been, not exactly corrupted, but excited, by people who talked in an ugly way about things that are really beautiful. That was a vile thing to say. You once found my willingness to love you a beautiful and courageous thing. I still think it was. Your spinsterishness makes you feel that a woman desperately and hopelessly in love with a man is an indecent spectacle and a reversal of the natural order of things. But you should have been too fine to feel like that.

    I would give my whole life to feel your arms round me again.

    I wish you had loved me. I wish you liked me.



    P.S. Don't leave me utterly alone. If I live write to me now and then. You like me enough for that. At least I pretend to myself you do.

  4. "Saturday History Lesson: Rebecca West, H.G. Wells, and Anthony Panther West, in The Rumpus
    article by Michelle Dean, 11 Aug 2012.

    Extract: "She’s always the subject of grand narratives about the “strong,” “modern,” or “new” woman, but it ought to go without saying that Rebecca West, the grand dame of criticism of her day, was not all bluster and perfection in her private life. By the age of just twenty-one, she was already a single mother, and the affair that gave her her son was far from ideal, nevermind the frustrated mother-child relationship it led to."