(1858 - 1924)
 “There is no bond like having read and liked the same books.”

Edith Nesbit, born on 15th of August 1858 in Kennington, South London, was a prolific writer. Although thought of today as specifically the author of children's novels, her writing in her earlier years covered stories and poems aimed at an adult audience. It was not until she reached her forties that she found her true métier as the writer of children’s literature.   Her success was due in great part to her ability to understand the minds of young people and she once wrote “When I was a little child I used to pray fervently, tearfully, that when I should be grown up I might never forget what I thought and felt and suffered then.” This enabled her to produce some of the most fully realized most believable fictional children ever created and for books like Five Children and It [1902] and The Railway Children [1906] she drew directly on her happiest childhood memories which was spent at Halstead in Kent.  Despite her success in the genre of children’s literature, she did not particularly like children, which may explain why the ones that she created in her books are so entirely human -  often unkind, vain, greedy and aggressive, as well as funny, compassionate and witty.  It is part of her genius that her clear and unsentimental view allows the children in her novels to see themselves with an equal clarity, which in turn makes them credible to the reader.   In 1965 Gore Vidal wrote of her “After Lewis Carroll, E. Nesbit is the best of the English fabulists who wrote about children (neither wrote for children) and like Carroll she was able to create a world of magic and inverted logic that was entirely her own”.  Her work had a profound impact on later children’s novelists – particularly C.S. Lewis and Arthur Ransome.  In The Magician’s Nephew Lewis directly references The Story of the Treasure Seekers  [1899] when he writes  “long ago when your grandfather was a child …. and the Bastables were looking for treasure in the Lewisham Road.”

In addition to her work as a writer Edith Nesbit was also a founding member of the Fabian Society, and was known for living a bohemian lifestyle, cutting her hair short as an “advanced woman”, chain smoking, having various love affairs, maintaining  a ménage a trois in her own household and financially supporting her philandering husband.  Despite the success of her children’s books she died in relative poverty when only 66 on the 4th May 1924.

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