The Autocracy of Mr. Parham

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The Autocracy of Mr. Parham
First edition
Author H. G. Wells
Original title The Autocracy of Mr. Parham: His Remarkable Adventures in This Changing World
Illustrator David Low
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Heinemann
Publication date
Pages 330

The Autocracy of Mr. Parham is a 1930 novel by H. G. Wells.

Plot summary[edit]

Mr. Parham is a university don with right-wing politics who dreams of finding a rich benefactor to finance a review he can edit. He thinks he has found such a man in Sir Bussy Woodcock, a "crude plutocrat"[1] who makes money at anything to which he puts his hand. In an attempt to foster this acquaintance that goes on for six years, Mr. Parham finds himself involved in séances that summon a Master Spirit from the beyond. This entity occupies Mr. Parham's body, and commences to inspire a political movement (the League of Duty Paramount) that overthrows the British government in a coup d'état. As "Lord Paramount," Mr. Parham undertakes to conquer the world. But the opposition of the United States ultimately leads to a "Second World War" that goes badly for Britain. Believing that he can win if he overcomes the resistance of industrialists who control a new poison gas ("Gas L") but who refuse to make it available to the military, he attacks their stronghold... and it is at this point that Mr. Parham reawakens from what has been a wild dream he had when he fell asleep during the séance. Shortly thereafter he discovers that Sir Bussy has never had any attention on conferring an editorship upon him, and the association of the "deflated publicist" and the millionaire is over.[2]

Composition and reception[edit]

Sir Bussy Woodcock was a recognizable caricature of Beaverbrook, and other characters correspond to Joynson-Hicks and Oswald Mosley.

Wells had trouble placing the novel with a publisher because sales of his novels had declined in recent years, but The Autocracy of Mr. Parham proved to be "one of Wells's better sellers in years. Bertrand Russell told Wells that he liked the book, but French reviews were unkind.[3]


  1. ^ H.G. Wells, The Autocracy of Mr. Parham (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1930), p. 3.
  2. ^ H.G. Wells, The Autocracy of Mr. Parham (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1930), p. 328.
  3. ^ David C. Smith, H.G. Wells: Desperately Mortal: A Biography (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1986), p. 301.