The Island of Dr. Moreau

A scientific romance by H G Wells (1866-1946), published in 1896. In 1895, Wells had written a paper on ‘The Limits of Individual Plasticity’, speculating about the possibility of transforming living beings. The Island of Doctor Moreau explores this theme. A shipwrecked man, Edward Prendick, reaches a sinister island inhabited by notorious vivisectionist, Doctor Moreau. Prendick suspects that experiments are also being carried out on humans, resulting in hybrid forms; however, the doctor explains that he has actually been changing animals into people. After Moreau’s death his creatures revert, guided by their innate instincts. Although Prendick makes it home to England, he experiences profound discomfort in the presence of humans.

H G Wells
Victorian literature
Literary period:

Related articles

H G Wells’s politics

Article by:
Matthew Taunton
Power and politics, Fin de siècle, Visions of the future

H G Wells was a committed socialist whose political writing influenced, among other things, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Dr Matthew Taunton considers how Wells engaged with socialist ideas in his journalism, social commentary and fiction.

An introduction to The Island of Dr. Moreau: science, sensation and degeneration

Article by:
Roger Luckhurst
Fin de siècle, Visions of the future

Roger Luckhurst looks at H G Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau as a text that both provoked and explored feelings of disgust, reflecting late-Victorian questions and fears about vivisection, cannibalism and evolutionary degeneration.

Inventing the future

Article by:
Mike Ashley
Visions of the future

Mike Ashley explores how the technological changes initiated by the Industrial Revolution inspired 19th-century writers.

Related collection items

Related people

Related works

A Christmas Carol

Created by: Charles Dickens

A Christmas book by Charles Dickens (1812–1870), published in 1843. Dickens was prompted to write this ...

A Woman of No Importance

Created by: Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde’s play A Woman of No Importance is a satire on English upper class morality and society’s ...

An Ideal Husband

Created by: Oscar Wilde

An Ideal Husband (1895) is the third of Oscar Wilde’s society comedies after Lady Windermere’s Fan ...

Lady Windermere’s Fan

Created by: Oscar Wilde

Lady Windermere’s Fan was first performed at St James’s Theatre on 20 February 1892 to rave reviews, and ...