Joan and Peter: The story of an education
is a novel written by H.G. Wells and first published in 1918. The novel follows the lives of two young people, Joan and Peter, as they grow up in England during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The novel begins with Joan and Peter as young children, living in a small English village with their respective families. Joan is the daughter of a successful businessman, while Peter is the son of a poor schoolmaster. Despite their different backgrounds, the two become close friends, bonding over their shared curiosity and love of learning.
As the years go by, Joan and Peter’s lives take different paths. Joan is sent to a prestigious boarding school, where she receives an education that prepares her for a life of social and economic privilege. Peter, on the other hand, is forced to leave school at a young age to support his family, and must rely on his own intelligence and resourcefulness to make his way in the world.
The novel follows the two characters as they navigate the challenges and opportunities of their respective educations. Joan, despite her advantages, struggles to find meaning and purpose in her life, and is drawn to social and political movements that challenge the established order. Peter, on the other hand, becomes a successful businessman, but must confront the moral compromises that come with his success.
Throughout the novel, Wells explores the relationship between education and social class. He questions the assumptions that underlie the British class system, and challenges the notion that intelligence and talent are exclusive to the upper classes. He also critiques the traditional methods of education, which he sees as rigid and inadequate, and advocates for a more flexible and individualized approach to learning.
Another theme of the novel is the impact of social and political change on individual lives. Joan and Peter are both affected by the tumultuous events of their time, including the Boer War, the suffrage movement, and the rise of socialism. The novel explores how these larger forces shape the lives of ordinary people, and how individuals respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by these changes.
Wells’ writing is characterized by his intellectual curiosity and his willingness to question established norms and beliefs. His novels are celebrated for their exploration of big ideas and their ability to capture the spirit of their time.
“Joan and Peter” is a novel that speaks to the universal human experience of growing up and finding one’s place in the world. It is a story of friendship, education, and the search for meaning and purpose in life. Wells’ critique of the British class system and his advocacy for a more individualized approach to education are still relevant today, making this novel a timeless work of literature.