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The History of Fantasy Literature

The Birth of Adult Fantasy Literature

Once upon a time, a guy named George MacDonald sat down and wrote a book named Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women. When he was done in 1858, we presume he stood up, dropped the mic (or the Victorian equivalent...a phonograph?), and declared, "you're welcome, nerds." Okay, you got me, he actually said something much more eloquent: "I write not for children, but for the child-like, whether they be of five, fifty, or seventy-five." Hear, hear! MacDonald told the prejudice against adult fantasy not to let the door hit its butt on the way out. Another luminary of this era was William Morris, whose 1896 book The Well at the World's End strove to recreate the language and culture of Middle Age epics. Interestingly, the philosophies of the two authors MacDonald, a Christian theologist, and Morris, an ardent medievalist match the two most gigantic figures in fantasy literature, who are up next. Can you guess who they are?

Tags: history, slideshows, fantasy, cs lewis, the hobbit, jrr tolkien, books-and-comics, the lord of the rings

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Becky Ferreira

Becky Ferreira is a writer, performer, and raptor based in New York.

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