Thursday, 15 August 2013

E. Nesbit's 155th Birthday

Today celebrates Edith Nesbit's 155th birthday. Nesbit, a famous English author and poet, was born on 15 August 1858 and died on 4 May 1924. Edith wrote over 40 fiction books for children, publishing under then name E. Nesbit, the most famous of which is 'The Railway Children'. Edith was was also a political activist and co-founded the Fabian Society, a socialist organisation later connected to the Labour Party.

Nesbit lived from 1899 to 1920 in Well Hall, Eltham, Kent (now in south-east Greater London), which appears in fictional guise in several of her books, especially The Red House. She and her husband entertained a large circle of friends, colleagues and admirers at their grand Well Hall. On 20 February 1917, three years after Bland, her first husband died, she married Thomas "the Skipper" Tucker. They were married in Woolwich, where he was a ship's engineer on the Woolwich Ferry.

She was a guest speaker at the London School of Economics, which had been founded by other Fabian Society members.

Many people claim Nesbit was the first modern writer for children and was a direct or indirect influence on many subsequent writers, including P. L. Travers (author of Mary Poppins), Edward Eager, Diana Wynne Jones and J. K. Rowling. C. S. Lewis wrote of her influence on his Narnia series and mentions the Bastable children in The Magician's Nephew. Most recently, Jacqueline Wilson has written a sequel to the Psammead trilogy, entitled Four Children and It.

Nesbit also wrote for adults, including eleven novels, short stories and four collections of horror stories.