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The History of Mr Polly
  • ISBN: 9780141441078
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Introduction: John Sutherland

The History of Mr Polly

H. G. Wells

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Mr Polly is an ordinary middle-aged man who is tired of his dreary job as the owner of a regional gentleman’s outfitters. Faced with the threat of bankruptcy, he concludes that the only way to escape his frustrating existence is by burning his shop to the ground and killing himself. Unexpected events, however, conspire at the last moment to lead the bewildered Mr Polly to a bright new future – after he saves a life, fakes his death, and escapes to a life of heroism, hope and ultimate happiness.

Reviewed by Ken Haigh in Slightly Foxed Issue 59.

Mr Polly Walks to Freedom


‘I think I’m having a mid-life crisis,’ I told my wife the other night at dinner.

Instead of sympathizing, she started laughing, and then immediately apologized. ‘I’m sorry, dear. You know I love you, but you’re always having a mid-life crisis. You’ve been having a mid-life crisis since the moment I met you, twenty-seven years ago.’

Now this is more or less true, but I prefer not to hear it. And I think ‘always’ is a bit of an exaggeration. The fact that my friends call me ‘Eeyore’ is neither here nor there. But I suppose that’s why I’ve always loved H. G. Wells’s novel The History of Mr Polly. Polly and I have so much in common . . .

Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 59, Autumn 2018

Mr Polly Walks to Freedom

Part of the attraction lies in its hero, Alfred Polly. He is a small, inconsequential man, the sort who drifts through life as if in a dream. ‘I’ve never really planned my life, or set out to...

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