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The Edwardian time traveller and a book that made me

January 8, 2017

On Romney Marsh I saw a sign for E.Nesbit’s grave. I remembered her name on the shiny dustcover of a childhood treasure, and that this name, with its mysterious initial, was one I once held in the highest esteem.

 

With the usual help from Mr Google, I found The Story of the Amulet. The title is stilled filled with magical possibility for me. It is a beginning. This is the book that, when I was about eight, made me desperate to visit the past, and began a fascination with time travel which I have no desire to shake.

 

It was published in 1906, so reading Nesbit’s book took me first to Edwardian London, before travelling with the children to Babylon and ancient Cornwall, Roman Gaul and The Future.

 

Grandma liked to give me the books she had enjoyed as a child. She told me that reading would take me to places I would never be able to visit. Though I think she meant foreign lands, which were further away in the seventies, her principle became mine.

 

I began to travel to the past in my imagination, with the help of junior historical novels, and in daydreams which sometimes went on for hours. Into my teens, it sometimes looked like I was dawdling, mid -task, arms slack and eyes blank, but, only I knew that I was introducing myself to the Tudor Court, while taking the necessary precautions against smallpox and striving to impress while revealing nothing which might imperil history.

 

Image from museumpreneurs via Flickr 

 

I’ve gone through the motions of growing up. But the idea of travelling backwards still excites me like no other. I’m inspired by novels that bend time in new ways, like Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, or A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. And I have never stopped day dreaming, although these days I write the best ones down.

 

Thank you, E.

 

How many miles to Babylon?

Three score and ten!

Can I get there by candle light?

Yes, and back again!

           

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