Edith Nesbit (1858 – 1924) is considered the first modern writer for children and the inventor of the children’s adventure story. Author of over forty books, including her seminal classic The Railway Children, and other novels, story collections, and picture books combining real-world adventure with elements of fantasy, she has influenced such writers as C. S. Lewis, P. L. Travers, J. K. Rowling, and Jacqueline Wilson.
... meticulous and invaluable ... Ms. Fitzsimons draws abundantly on Moore’s and Briggs’s research, but her palette has an even greater range of colors, and she also brings to light many previously hidden biographical watermarks. If her book lacks Briggs’s stylistic elegance, she excels in providing exceptionally illuminating and detailed portraits of the extraordinary group of practical and utopian socialists, mutual-aid anarchists, theosophists, feminists, radical freethinkers, and trailblazing writers who were part of the Bland-Nesbit milieu ... [a] fine biography.
Fitzsimons evidently assumes you already know most...things [about Nesbit]. Taking her subject as a known quantity, she opens her book with a sentimental description of a lurid incident from Nesbit’s childhood that haunted the author for the rest of her life ... Fitzsimons...shows less interest in rhapsodizing over Nesbit’s style than in exploring the purpose and personal history that underlay it ... Nesbit’s child characters...'reflect the Fabian belief that socialism transcends class since it benefits everyone.' The Bastables, the Psammead children and the railway children put that belief into action in their fictional lives. But did Nesbit do so in her real one? Fitzsimons explores this question thoroughly ... In her biography, Fitzsimons handily reassembles the hundreds of intricate, idiosyncratic parts of the miraculous E. Nesbit machine; but the secret of how she made it all come together and hum remains intact.
... insightful and lively ... Finding explicit similarities between an author’s work and their life can feel forced, but Fitzsimons makes extensive and excellent use of Nesbit’s fiction and poetry, and in doing so she illuminates both Nesbit’s work and her life. At times the narrative trembles under the sheer weight of names, though that isn’t the biographer’s fault; so many friends and potential lovers came in and out of Nesbit’s highly sociable life that it can be hard for the reader to keep track of them all ... Like all the best literary biographies, this highly readable book will send readers back to that writing.