Growing up, I loved Edith Nesbit’s books because they were simply bursting with imagination and magic. Most of all, and not very surprising for a budding history nerd, I loved the time-travelling in House of Arden and Harding’s Luck. Today, Nesbit is perhaps not that well-remembered, but she had huge impact on the development on children’s literature and future writers such as C.S Lewis, P.L. Travers, Diana Wynne Jones and, indeed, J.K. Rowling. This quote is from New Treasure Seekers which is part of a series of four books about the Bastable children and their adventures to help their family, fallen on hard times.
Incidentally, Nesbit herself is also an interesting figure. Not just an author of children’s books, she was also a political political activist who co-founded the Fabian Society, a socialist organisation later affiliated to the Labour Party. Her personal life with Hubert Bland, whom Wikipedia defines as “an infamous libertine, a journalist, an early English socialist, and one of the founders of the Fabian Society” was stormy and not at all what you’d perhaps expect from a children’s author. Among other things, he had several children by Nesbit’s friend and housekeeper Alice Hoatson, which were adopted by the Blands. It’s pretty obvious that she’s one of the real life characters A.S. Byatt drew on for The Children’s Book (2009).
None of that made its way into her books, however, except perhaps indirectly, like in this quote, which I simply adore. Don’t worry about being ladylike, girls. Be a free and happy bounder!