[Ads-l] H. G. Wells enthusiasm for bicycles

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 24 08:09:41 EDT 2021


Quotation researcher Mardy Grothe asked me to investigate a popular
remark about bicycles attributed to H. G. Wells who died in 1946. I
found variants starting circa 1988. This late date suggests that the
attribution is probably spurious. Alternatively, Wells employed a
different phrasing.

1988 Feb: Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair
for the future of the human race (not yet verified)

1990 Nov: When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the
future of the human race

1991 Oct: When I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race

1992 Feb: Every time I see an adult on a bicycle it gives me hope for
the human race

If you can find an earlier match that would be helpful.
If you have access to the magazine "Bicycle USA" then you can help by
verifying the 1988 citation (details below).

Side excursion: While exploring this topic I encountered a genuine
remark from Wells about bicycles within his 1905 novel “A Modern
Utopia”, and I created a Quote Investigator article about it:

Cycle Tracks Will Abound In Utopia
https://quoteinvestigator.com/2021/09/23/cycle-utopia/

Here are the most pertinent matches I located.
The 1988 match occurred within a letter sent to "Bicycle USA" from
Robert Silverman of Montreal.

Year: February 1988 (Date extracted from Google Books; the year is
probably ok based on visible snippets. but the month is uncertain)
Periodical: Bicycle USA
Volume 24
Quote Page 4 (According to Google Books)
Database: Google Books snippet; data may be inaccurate; this citation
must be verified with hardcopy

[Begin excerpt]
. . . pleasant for the millions of bicyclists in North America. "Every
time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future
of the human race" said H.G. Wells.
Robert Silverman
Montreal, Canada
[End excerpt]


Date: November 4, 1990
Newspaper: Quad-City Times
Newspaper Location: Davenport, Iowa
Article: Wheeling to work
Author: Carie Dann (Quad-City Times)
Quote Page H1, Column 1
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of
the human race."
— H.G. Wells
[End excerpt]


Date: October 18, 1991
Newspaper: The Guardian
Newspaper Location: London, Greater London, England
Article: Car Culture
Quote Page 32, Column 1
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
'When I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human
race'—H.G. Wells, 1886-1946.
[End excerpt]


In 1992 a Montreal newspaper printed a remark from "Montreal's Bicycle
Bob Silverman". This might be the same person who wrote the 1988
letter. Silverman employed a slightly different phrasing, and
apparently he did not credit Wells (or the newspaper omitted the
attribution).

Date: February 12, 1992
Newspaper: The Gazette
Newspaper Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Article: Off to check Cuban pedal power
Author: Marlene Caplan
Quote Page A3, Column 4
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
"In 1961 I heard Fidel promise a car to every Cuban," Silverman
chuckled. "Bicycle advocacy transcends capitalism and socialism. Every
time I see an adult on a bicycle it gives me hope for the human race."
[End excerpt]


Date: February 26, 1992
Newspaper: The San Bernardino County Sun
Newspaper Location: San Bernardino, California
Article: Thought for the Commute
Unnumbered Page, Column 1
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
THOUGHT FOR THE COMMUTE
"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race."
H.G. Wells 1866-1946
[End excerpt]

Garson

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