Edith Nesbit: Five Children and It (2100 words)

Matthew Creasy (University of Glasgow)
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Five Children and It (1902) is the first major work of fantasy published by Edith Nesbit. It concerns a family of London children who move to Kent one summer. Freed from adult supervision, they discover a magical creature whilst digging in a local gravel pit. According to her biographer Julia Briggs, Nesbit concocted her name for this creation, the “psammead”, from the Greek psammos (sand) by analogy with the dryads and naiads of Classical myth (p. 223). Her sand-fairy is capable of granting the children one wish a day, although the effects usually wear off by sundown. Having established this premise, the plot of the novel is largely episodic and chapters chart the ways in which a succession of wishes goes a…

Citation: Creasy, Matthew. "Five Children and It". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 February 2021 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=39013, accessed 22 April 2021.]

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