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Tony Grist

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E Nesbit And Other Early Time Travellers [Jan. 19th, 2016|01:33 pm]
Tony Grist
Edith Nesbit wasn't the first to write stories featuring time travel but her Story of the Amulet (1906) may be the earliest to allow its characters to run around having adventures in time on the Whovian model.  Earlier writers used time travel as a device to access one particular location- and their purpose was often didactic:  Pierre Boitard had a theory of prehistory to explore, William Morris was preaching medievalism, H.G. Wells was working on his political philosophy. Nesbit, on the other hand, has her characters go here, there and everywhere for the simple fun of it. Kipling- whose Puck books have a similar feel to Nesbit's (and use the same illustrator)- keeps his modern characters from contaminating the historical record by having people from the past come to them- and tell them stories. Nesbit has no such qualms. Her children not only visit historical cruxes but meddle with them.  One of her little girls inadvertently persuades Caesar to invade Britain- while another warns Ann Boleyn of her fate and betrays the gunpowder plotters.

I've used wikipedia to hunt down Nesbit's predecessors but the list may be incomplete. Well, obviously it is because Nesbit herself is missing. I'm not a wikipedia editor but perhaps someone who is could dip in and set things straight.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: steepholm
2016-01-19 10:56 pm (UTC)
Nesbit is generally credited with being the first person to write time travel for children. (Obviously some children would have read people like Morris, Wells and Twain, but they weren't the explicit audience.) If you come across any earlier, I'd love to hear about them!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-01-20 10:41 am (UTC)
I doubt that I'm going to find anything earlier. It's my belief that Nesbit really was the inventor of this kind of time travel story- with the characters hopping about promiscuously in time and space.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2016-01-20 10:48 am (UTC)
When I asked a similar question a couple of years ago many texts were mentioned in the comments, but none that fit that description.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-01-20 12:03 pm (UTC)
I remember that conversation now. Interesting.

Gaspar y Rimbau seems like the closest fit- but I notice he sells the pass by making it turn out to be just a dream.

God, but I hate it when it turns out to be just a dream.

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