Chris tchaikovsky

Yours disgusted, H.G. Wells: the young writer finds marriage insufferable

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 aeroplane, 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

It’s time female fraudsters received their due

If you’re after jewel thieves, bank robbers and gold smugglers, look no further than Caitlin Davies’s Queens of the Underworld. It opens in 1960 and tells the tale of Zoe Progl, a professional crook who once stole £250,000-worth of furs in a single heist. Eventually sent to Holloway Prison for 20 years, Progl subsequently pulled off the most successful jailbreak in 75 years when she scaled the 25ft wall to freedom. Davies describes how her interest in this case led her to talk to Progl’s daughter after her mother’s death and, realising there was barely any public knowledge about this notorious, successful and imaginative criminal, thought that Progl was one