Author Edith Nesbit – Illustrator C. E. Brock – Publisher Wells Gardner, Darton -Publication date 1906
“Also she had the power of silent sympathy. That sounds rather dull, I know, but it’s not so dull as it sounds. It just means that a person is able to know that you are unhappy, and to love you extra on that account, without bothering you by telling you all the time how sorry she is for you.”
― E. Nesbit, The Railway Children
The Railway Children, published in book form in 1906 has never been out of print. The book has an enduring place in British children’s literature. The Railway Children is a celebration of England’s rural idyll, presenting an idealized view of childhood, where, unfettered, children rely on their resourcefulness. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit was originally serialized in The London Magazine during 1905 and first published in book form in 1906. It has been adapted for the screen several times. The story concerns a family who moves from London to “The Three Chimneys,” a house near the railway in Yorkshire, after the father is falsely accused of a crime. The children befriend an Old Gentleman who regularly takes the 9:15 train near their home who plays a big part in the ensuing story. There is a Russian exile who comes to England looking for his family and Jim, the grandson of the Old Gentleman, who suffers a broken leg in a tunnel. A wonderful cast of characters around the railroad befriend the children, and in turn, are helped by them. You will enjoy this read as I did, one of the eight books I read during the first month of 2016. I have given the video of this lovely story to grandchildren in their young days.
Edith Nesbit (married name Edith Bland; 15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924) was an English author and poet who easily sidetracks me from this book recommendation because of her lifestyle, ahead of her time, which interests me. She published her books for children under the name of E. Nesbit. She wrote or collaborated on over 60 books of fiction for children, several of which have been adapted for film and television. She was a political activist and co-founded the Fabian Society, a socialist organisation later connected to the Labour Party. Referred to as an “advanced woman” she cut her hair short, smoked incessantly and was seven months pregnant with her eldest son Paul before she married Hubert Bland. (The Railway Children is dedicate to this son.) The couple did not immediately live together. Bland preferred to remain in his mother’s home, leaving Nesbit to fend for herself. For most of her married life Nesbit lived in a menage a trois with her former best friend and husband’s mistress, Alice Hoatson, who bore Bland two children whom Nesbit raised as her own.
Wish we could all walk the path in Grove Park, south-east London, that is named the Railway Children Walk to commemorate Nesbit’s novel. The short walkway connects Baring Road to Reigate Road. A similar path is also located in Oxenhope.
Enjoy this lovely story!