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The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz
by L Frank Baum (1900)


The now-familiar story of the adventures of Dorothy in the land of Oz. Baum's original story confirms what anyone who has seen the Judy Garland movie already knows - it is about heart, courage, soul and a sense of belonging. Dorothy and her dog go on a magical journey with a scarecrow, a tin man and a cowardly lion. Followed by several other books in the series.





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Five Children and It
by Edith Nesbit (1902)


Edith Nesbit was a political activist and co-founded the Fabian Society, a precursor to the modern British Labour Party. The five children find a cantankerous sand fairy or 'psammead' in a gravel pit. Every day 'It' will grant each of them a wish that lasts until sunset, often with disastrous consequences. A tough choice leaves all the participants pondering.





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The Man Who Was Thursday
by G K Chesterton (1907)


Metaphysically surreal, Chesterton's early-20th century London makes it difficult to discern the cops from the poets and/or the anarchists. Poet Gabriel Syme is recruited by Scotland Yard and ends up infiltrating the Central Council of Anarchists under the codename 'Thursday'. While suffering from depression, Chesterton wrote this to cheer himself and his family up a bit. Recommended.





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The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame (1908)


Enchanting children's classic that holds plenty for older readers as well. The adventures of Mole, Ratty, Mr Toad (of Toad Hall) and Badger as they seek the secret of the wind and come to terms with the Wild Wood. English class distinctions are represented by the River-Bankers and Wild Wooders, with the lovable main characters taking a somewhat unrefined approach to things.





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Peter Pan and Wendy
by J M Barrie (1911)


Most will already be familiar with the exploits of J M Barrie's flying boy hero Peter Pan as brought to the stage in 1904 and novelised in 1911. Perhaps not so well known are the early stories collected as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens about a baby living in a magical fairyland. Both are available together in a basic budget-priced Penguin edition that is hard to beat.





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The Lost World
by Arthur Conan Doyle (1912)


Classic 'lost world' tale follows expedition to an isolated and inaccessible South American plateau where dinosaurs still survive. In the face of popular scepticism, the determined Professor Challenger wants to get back to London to prove his critics wrong. Ostensibly based on the discovery of fossilised footprints near Doyle's home. Still a great read.





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Tarzan of the Apes
by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914)


Jungle soap-opera with only mild fantasy elements. Anybody vaguely familiar with 20th century pop culture will already know the basics of the Tarzan story. The original explains the Lord Greystoke angle, ascendancy to 'King of the Apes' and the story of Tarzan's love for Jane. Great stuff, but Burroughs' best fantasy was probably Princess of Mars (1912), usually classified as sci-fi.





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Winnie-the-Pooh
by A A Milne (1926)


A collection of children's stories about an anthropomorphic stuffed teddy bear. The main human character, Christopher Robin, was named after British author Milne's son. The others are based on Christopher's collection of stuffed toys. Following Milne's death the Disney studios obtained rights to adapt many of the stories into hugely successful features and full-length movies.


The Early 1900s
The early 20th century & the rise of fantasy kid's books
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