Edith Nesbit: Biography

Edith Nesbit

18 aug 1858

Edith Nesbit was an English novelist and poet born in Surrey in 1858. She was a very well-known author of children’s books which she published under the name of E. Nesbit.

Nesbit married Hubert Bland, a bank clerk, in 1880, when she was 22 years old. The couple had a turbulent relationship, with Bland having several affairs during their engagement and marriage. A few years down the line, Nesbit discovered that her best friend, Alice Hoatson, was also pregnant by Hubert. Before knowing who the father was, Nesbit had agreed to adopt the child when it was born but quickly refused when she discovered the truth. Hubert forced Nesbit to honour her initial promise, having to commit to raising her husband’s illegitimate child. She was also forced to raise Hubert and Hoatson’s second child, born 13 years later. She had three children of her own (Paul, Iris and Fabian), the youngest of which (Fabian) died aged just 15 years old. Her son’s death had a huge impact on her mental health, marking a significant change in the types of stories that she began producing.

Although Nesbit is best known for her children’s’ novels The Railway Children and Five Children and It, many of her later works are much darker. She wrote collections of horror stories for adults which are haunting and disturbing, and much more closely fit with the profile of a woman who had suffered so much at the hand of her husband and after the death of her son.

After Hubert Bland’s death, Edith Nesbit married a man called Thomas Tucker: a ship’s engineer. She remained married to him until her death in 1924.