HE GAVE us War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, The Island of Dr Moreau and The Invisible Man, plus many other novels of genius, and now 70 years after his death, there is set to be a huge resurgence in studies of one of the world’s greatest science fiction writers, HG Wells.

That is because in line with copyright law, Wells’s works produced in his lifetime are now available to be used for research, and academics from Napier University in Edinburgh will be to the fore in new studies of the author.

Herbert George Wells died at the age of 79 in August, 1946, and his writings therefore came out of copyright this month, the January after the 70th anniversary of his death.

To mark this entry into public ownership, new editions of HG Wells’s books have been published, edited by Edinburgh Napier’s Professor Linda Dryden. Her colleagues Dr Andrew Frayn and Dr Emily Alder from Napier’s School of Arts and Creative Industries have also contributed introductions and reading notes to this new collection. He did not just write science fiction, with Kipps and The History of Mr Polly, being his most famous novels not set in that genre, but it was for his science-based predictions that Wells was famed.

We can also expect to see a revival in scholarship about Wells and his less famous works, including his Outline of History, a factual two volume book that was damned by some historians but hugely popular with the public and huge best-sellers when they were published in the 1920s.

Prof. Dryden says: “The ability to quote extensively from Wells’s work without having to get permission and pay his estate is the main advantage of his work coming out of copyright.

“When I wrote my book on Joseph Conrad and Wells in 2015 I had to pay a substantial sum to his estate in order to quote from his works. Now authors are free from that constraint.”

Dryden thinks there will be renewed interest in Wells and his many ideas.

She said: “Wells’s work remains hugely relevant to us today because his imagination was just so prophetic. He envisaged global warming, nuclear warfare, and even imagined ‘sham glowing log’ fires in his 1901 book Anticipations.

“Today we find some of his ideas for political and social reform rather worrying or idealistic, but his fiction is so compelling that it remains fresh and immensely approachable even to this day.”

In his own lifetime Wells was often described as a man ahead of his time, and it is fascinating to consider what he would make of current events and the state of technology, Prof Dryden said: “I think that were Wells to get into his time machine and travel forward to 2017 he would be both horrified and amazed at how the world has turned out.

“He would see that his ideals for society and for the evolution of humankind would not have been realised and that war and inequality still pervade the world.

“But he would also see so many things that he had predicted had come true: television, Wikipedia, escalators, credit cards, soap operas, space travel — the list goes on.”

Prof Dryden has no hesitation in recommending her favourite HG Wells novel: “I would urge everyone to read The Invisible Man. It is hugely readable, funny, yet humane.”