H. G. Wells? Diane Ackerman? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: When the famous science fiction author and social critic H. G. Wells envisioned utopia he wished to see ubiquitous bicycle paths winding through forests and gardens. Would you please help me to find a citation?
Quote Investigator: H. G. Wells serialized his alternate history novel titled “A Modern Utopia” in “The Fortnightly Review” with chapter two printed in November 1904, 1 and the full book appearing in 1905. Wells described picturesque bicycle paths: 2
Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia, sometimes following beside the great high roads, but oftener taking their own more agreeable line amidst woods and crops and pastures; and there will be a rich variety of footpaths and minor ways. There will be many footpaths in Utopia.
There will be pleasant ways over the scented needles of the mountain pinewoods, primrose-strewn tracks amidst the budding thickets of the lower country, paths running beside rushing streams, paths across the wide spaces of the corn land, and, above all, paths through the flowery garden spaces amidst which the houses in the towns will stand. And everywhere about the world, on road and path, by sea and land, the happy holiday Utopians will go.
Below are two additional selected citations.
In 1993 “The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations” included an entry for the quotation: 3
Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia.
H. G. WELLS (1866-1946), British author. A Modern Utopia, ch. 2. scl. 3 (1905; repr. in The Works of H. G. Wells, vol. 9, 1925).
In 1999 Diane Ackerman’s book “Deep Play” ascribed the quotation to Wells: 4
To his mind, any ideal future must include bikes, which is why he promises that “Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia.”
In conclusion, H.G. Wells did endorse bicycle tracks in his 1905 book “A Modern Utopia”, and stated that they would abound in his utopia.
(Great thanks to Mardy Grothe whose inquiry about a different quotation concerning bicycles attributed to H. G. Wells led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration. )
Image Notes: Public domain picture of a person on a bicycle traveling along a path through a forest. Image from Free-Photos at Pixabay. Image has been cropped and resized.
- 1904 November, The Fortnightly Review, A Modern Utopia: A Sociological Holiday by H.G. Wells, Chapter 2: Concerning Freedoms, Start Page 928, Quote Page 936, Chapman and Hall, London; Also Leonard Scott Publication Company, New York. (Google Books Full View) link ↩
- 1905, A Modern Utopia by H. G. Wells, Chapter 2: Concerning Freedoms, Quote Page 47, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. (Google Books Full View) link ↩
- 1993, The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations, Edited by Robert Andrews, Topic: Bicycles, Quote Page 90, Columbia University Press, New York. (Verified with scans) ↩
- 1999, Deep Play by Diane Ackerman, Chapter Six: Creating Minds, Quote Page 134, Random House, New York. (Verified with scans) ↩