The Magic World by E. Nesbit

When I was in the kitchen at Christmas (when was I not in the kitchen, I’m definitely going to make it all easier for myself next year) I had the radio on as usual and I was listening to Radio 4 extra which usually has something entertaining and different along the lines of vintage comedy or classic fiction. This time I realised it was E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It which I read some years ago as I never did get around to it as a child.

If you like Edwardian fantasy/fairy tale type things then you’ll enjoy Nesbit, her writing is quite humorous. She was writing at a time when life seemed to be so much simpler and more wholesome – if you didn’t get consumption or typhoid and you weren’t a ‘slavey’ in service.

As it happened I was in the middle of reading a book of Nesbit short stories called The Magic World – a collection of twelve stories involving magic. Perfect for children of all ages and I’m going to be passing my copy of this Puffin Classic on to a ten year old girl I know. I’m not sure if she’ll like it, it might be a bit too old fashioned for a modern miss but she did love the omnibus book of Little House on the Prairie which I passed on to her as part of my decluttering efforts.

Edith Nesbit lived from 1858-1924 and she was a bit of a shocker in her day. She lived a very Bohemian life as a member of the socialist Fabian Society. They were a fairly loose moralled bunch for the times – well for any times really and as I recall she had an affair with H.G. Wells amongst others. It was a bit of a toss up as to who fathered the children involved. But although she was a very successful writer her charitable deeds almost led to her becoming bankrupt, so her heart was in the right place!

7 thoughts on “The Magic World by E. Nesbit

  1. Yes, I read Five Children and It when I was a child, and watched a version of it on TV too – perhaps the Sunday serial round about teatime – but I;ve never read anything else by her since! I’d have liked to live a Bohemian life!

  2. How interesting that her books were so wholesome, yet her personal life so unconventional! I just looked to see if we have any of her books in my library. We do – and they’re all checked out!

    • Anbolyn,
      I’m really surprised that they are so popular now. I suppose it must be the quaintness of them and the children aren’t goody goodies, they do get into trouble like normal kids but things turn out fine in the end. I suppose they might all be checked out by adults!

  3. Five and Children It was what immediately came to my mind. I do not think I have read any by Nesbit and did not realse she led such an eventful life!

  4. My dad gave me The Wouldbegoods for my eighth birthday, and for the longest time after that,I thought Nesbit was a man–since, you know, the book was narrated by Oswald. I learnt E was Edith only when I was in my twenties…

    • Niranjana,
      I think that was the idea. Even JK Rowling went down that road so that her books would be picked up by boys as well as girls. Boys won’t read books by women given the choice! Someone told me that Terry Pratchett has used the name Oswald Bastable for a character, I haven’t read any Pratchett though.

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