Author Profile: Edith Nesbit

Edith Nesbit (more commonly known as the writer E. Nesbit) was born in in London, England in 1858. Her father, John Nesbit, died before the future writer’s fourth birthday. Owing to her sister Mary’s poor disposition of health, the family traveled around quite a bit.

Mary didn’t last too long. When Nesbit’s sister died, the family moved to the county of Kent. For those of you Nesbit fans, this may have inspired the events of the book The Railway Children, where four children and a mother move to a dingy town and neighborhood in the face of calamity.

Nesbit married Hubert Bland in 1880, although her writing career started a short while before that: in 1878, her poem “Under the Trees” was published to a magazine when she was under twenty years of age. She took to adopting the name of E. Nesbit to disguise the fact that she was a woman.

Most of her early works were poems, however, and her first full-length novel, The Story of the Treasure-Seekers, didn’t come out until the turn of the century in 1899. It was the first of a series the included two other relatively well-known novels: The Wouldbegoods and The New Treasure-Seekers.

However, probably her best well-known series of novels was the Five Children and It series, starting of course with the novel The Five Children and It. It was followed by two more novels, namely The Phoenix and the Carpet and The Story of the Amulet. This was a change from her usual CRF novels, of the same kind as Narnia: Contemporary Fantasy.

Nesbit’s work was revolutionary for a number of reasons. One, she brought CRF to the world of children in a way that they could easily understand. Before this, Grimm’s fairy tales had been the standard fare for children’s fiction, while Nesbit stepped in and created children’s literature that not only dealt in the real world, but also with worldly problems and issues.

Second, she was one of the authors and mainstream creators of proto-fantasy. Before the true genre was invented, we mainly had only fairy tales and myths. Stories of dragons and heroes slaying them were dismissed on the grounds that they were “for children”.

When Nesbit came on the scene, she did create children’s literature, but at the time there wasn’t a clearly solidified “this is adult literature and this is children’s literature”. There was a vague sentiment that everything “sensible and generally uninteresting” in fiction was grown-up, and everything exciting and fantastical was fit only for children. Hey, says who?

By blurring the lines with her CRF for children, Nesbit paved the way for C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series and the much more suited to grown-ups Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and (far more indirectly, however) the young adult fiction of Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. She proved that not all Contemporary Realistic Fiction was for adults, and by extension she was saying that not all Fantasy was for children, either.

Nesbit wrote a variety of other works, as well. Although she is mostly known for her children’s novels (improperly so-called, by the way: individuals of any age group may read her books shamelessly) she has written a few “grown-up” novels, and, aside from the poems that she made before her beginning as a writer of novels, she has also written an autobiography.

Good luck, and happy writing!


Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Until then, writers!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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