Edith Nesbit

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Biography

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Edith Nesbit, born August 19, 1858, in London, was the youngest of four children, and was only three when her father died. Her widowed mother tried for a time to manage the agricultural college of which he had been principal. When Nesbit was eight, however, her mother moved to Europe, and for the next five years Nesbit was enrolled in a series of continental schools which she hated. Her only happy memories from this period were of her brief stay with a family in Brittany who had a daughter her age. When her family returned to England, she lived for a time in a country house in Kent, but her mother's financial difficulties forced them to move back to London.

When Nesbit was twenty, she met Hubert Bland, a bank clerk, whom she married a year later. The Blands hosted a literary and intellectual group who met regularly at their home, and eventually founded the socialistic Fabian society. When Bland was stricken with smallpox, and his business partner absconded with his funds, the family was left penniless. Nesbit, who had been publishing verse occasionally, was then forced to support her four children by selling stories. She was a prolific writer, and the poems and short stories she sold to newspapers were very popular. Along with raising a family and earning a living by "hack" writing, Nesbit found time to work for the poor and practice her socialist principles.

Nesbit did not begin writing novels for young adults—considered her greatest literary achievement—until she was in her forties. Many of her best-known works, such as Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet, The House of Arden, and Harding's Luck, appeared serially in magazines before being published as books. In all of her novels for young adult readers, humor, poetry, and mystery combine with realistic set ting and convincing characterization. Never didactic, always entertaining, her fiction has timeless appeal.

Time is not; into this instant is crowded all that one has ever done or dreamed of doing.
A few years after the death of her husband, Nesbit married an old friend, T. T. Tucker, with whom she lived happily during the remainder of her life. She died May 4, 1924, in a small village on the coast of Kent at age sixty-five.