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'Tales of the Dying Earth'
by Jack Vance (1950)


A series of linked stories about a far-future Earth where the sun is dying and magic is the science of the day. Critical opinion of the first book varies, with some rating it as a genuine science fantasy classic. Others, however, think its time has come and gone. The debut is a short novel and a harmless quick read. All the Dying Earth stories are now available in an omnibus edition.





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'The Chronicles of Narnia'
by C S Lewis (1950)


All-time favourite series for young readers about four English school children who step into a magical wardrobe and end up in the enchanted land of Narnia. There they meet Aslan, the golden lion, and find that eternal winter that has cursed the land. The current publication order is chronological, with The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe still the best of the series.





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'The Borrowers'
by Mary Norton (1952)


A house now part of Leighton Middle School, known within the school as The Old House, is reportedly the setting of this Mary Norton series. The Borrowers are tiny people hidden away in houses and safe places, living off what they borrow from human Beans. Pod tries to teach daughter Arriety the Borrower way, never be seen, but she wants to have fun.





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'Lord of the Rings'
by J R R Tolkien (1954)


The all-time greatest work of fantasy by a Middle-Earth mile, Lord of the Rings is a classic story of good versus evil. Sauron, the Dark Lord, has all of the Rings of Power except one. A hobbit is given the task of destroying the Ring in the Cracks of Doom. He and his companions undertake a perilous journey to fend off evil. The 'trilogy' is basically a single book published in three volumes.





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The Cat in the Hat
by Dr. Seuss (1957)


Writer/cartoonist Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr Seuss, had his life changed after reading a report in Life magazine on declining literacy standards in American schoolkids. Already a noted writer of children's books, he decided to write linguistically interesting books that could be used in the classroom. The result was the amazing Cat in the Hat, and the rest is history.





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The Once & Future King
by T H White (1958)


White's four Arthurian novels together are perhaps the best known versions of the story of King Arthur and the knights of Camelot. Based on Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, White manages to bring some humorous relief to Arthur's otherwise tragic story. The musical movie Camelot was based on White's stories.





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The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson (1959)


Highly literate novel that elevated ghost stories to a new level of credibility. Dr Montague assembles three others to help him study paranormal phenomena at the infamous Hill House - a creaky Gothic mansion complete with gargoyles. Most of the story focuses on Eleanor Vance, a shy and lonely girl invited along because of her experience with poltergeists. Still a good read.





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Naked Lunch
by William S Burroughs (1959)


Counterculture classic that defies all convention. Using the 'cut-up technique', Burroughs wrote in a drug-induced non-linear style which he claimed allowed for entering the novel at any point. The 'story' about sex and drug addict Bill Lee's degeneration and entry into the hallucinatory 'Interzone' was the subject of a landmark court case that virtually ended literary censorship in America.


Fantasy's Golden Era
The 1950s & the dawning of contemporary fantasy literature
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