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Edith Nesbit (1858-1924)

Writers' Biographies

Writers of Fables

Joel Chandler Harris
Jean de La Fontaine

Fairytale Writers

Hans Christian Andersen
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Joseph Jacobs
Charles Perrault

Modern Writing for Children

David Almond
E. Nesbit

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Edith Nesbit is best known for the stories and novels she wrote for children, and as the creator of the Bastable family. Her fantasy novels Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet, and The Story of the Amulet established a formula for fantasy writing for children that has been followed by children's writers all over the world.

Edith Nesbit was the youngest of the four surviving children of John Collis Nesbit, an agricultural chemist of distinction and principal of an agricultural college in Kennington. Edith's father died when she was three. Her mother ran the college herself for a short while, but, when Edith was nine, decided to move abroad for the health of Edith's elder sister Mary. Edith and her siblings were thrown into a nomadic existence across France and Germany. Edith hated most of the school she went to, and even tried to run away from one in Germany.

The family came back to England, and when Edith was thirteen, settled into a large country house in Kent. Edith loved this house, and spent much of her time exploring the surroundings with her brothers Alfred and Harry. Edith drew on the house and its surroundings, as well as their way of life, in her books.

Edith married Hubert Bland in 1880. Soon after, Bland fell critically ill with smallpox, and at the same time suffered heavy business losses which left him penniless. Edith supported them through various ways, including selling poems and stories to newspapers. Bland collaborated on some of the stories, and ultimately became a distinguished journalist himself.

The Blands were Socialists, and founder-members of the Fabian Society. Their friends included George Bernard Shaw, another famous Fabian.

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Book review:   Five Children and It

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Last updated: April 2010. Copyright © Rohini Chowdhury 2002. All rights reserved.

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