Feminist Friday: The Life & Loves of E. Nesbit

Hello! I’m so excited to be sharing my first ‘Feminist Friday’ post 🙂 As a passionate advocate of gender equality and having developed many of my own thoughts through reading as well as gaining much of my courage, on the second Friday of each month I will be sharing an inspiring feminist read with you guys.

This month I’d like you to meet E. Nesbit. You may know her as the author of ‘The Railway Children’, you may not have heard of her at all. I have decided to share this book with you not only because it is an incredibly well crafted biography (by an inspirational women writer herself!) but because I found one of the strongest, most passionate women between it’s pages.

This particular biography by Eleanor Fitzsimons was only published in the autumn last year and I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you!

“It’s an odd thing – the softer and more easily hurt a woman is, the better she can screw herself up to do what has to be done.”

E. Nesbit
(The Railway Children)

Fitzsimons has created a masterpiece of a biography with none of the factual ‘clunk’ that is so often characteristic of this genre. As a long-term fan of works such as Five Children & It and The Railway Children, I thoroughly enjoyed The Life and Loves of E. Nesbit. The compiling of Nesbit’s life was achieved with a sensitivity that engaged me from page one, all the while weaving a gentle narrative from the events of her life that drew me into her story. Fitzsimons has cleverly presented the material in a way that allows the reader to meet Edith for themselves.

I particularly enjoyed the frequent extracts of Edith’s own words, throughout the book, sourced from her letters etc. as they created a direct window onto her personality, I found as much of a friend in Nesbit through reading Fitzsimons inspiring biography as I did amongst the pages of her children’s adventures. On completing the book I felt as if I had lost a very dear friend.

E. Nesbit is a truly inspirational individual and this biography does her the justice she deserves, not only as a writer but as a person. She faced many challenges in her life both personal – relationships and work; things we can identify with still today – but also challenges that came with the time. The rumblings of the Suffragettes were shaking the foundations of society, something that actually frightened Nesbit. Though this seems to completely contradict her ideas on women working and being financially independent (as she was) do show us that we all fight in our own ways. Nesbit was a committed socialist and put her life and soul into that. She refused to sign the Conciliation Bill of 1910, explaining;

I am sorry I cannot sign the enclosed memorial as it does not embody my views. I am for adult Suffrage, but primarily my political interest is all for socialism, and I do not wish socialism to be endangered by an extension of the franchise to Conservative women.

E. Nesbit 1910

(p. 221 of Fitzsimons Biography)

I found her a fascinating person; the way her life shaped both her and her writing, the way she fought against conforming to societal ‘norms’, the work she did for charity, friends, her views on politics… and I think what I loved most about this biography was, it wasn’t written to make Edith an angel. It is honest and raw – some of her views really riled me! I couldn’t agree with everything and I wasn’t always entirely sure I’d have liked her in person. But that’s the thing – we are all human and entitled to our own opinions, it’s more about being proud of who we are and believing in what we do. Books plant seeds of thought and then let them blossom in the world, watered by the minds of the readers – constantly growing and changing. Its the ability to listen, be open to these thoughts, collaborate and adapt in the world that makes progress. Edith certainly sent a few thoughts out into the world in her lifetime of writing.

I hope you enjoyed my first ‘Feminist Friday’ post. If you did, be sure to follow me so you don’t miss out on more to come and please like and comment to let me know what you thought 🙂

Meg Readz xx

2 thoughts on “Feminist Friday: The Life & Loves of E. Nesbit

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