'The longer I live, the more I am convinced of the importance of children's books.' When Robert Bloomfield wrote this in 1817 he could have had no idea of the range of children's books to come, nor of how in England fantasy would be their outstanding form. In this survey of 400 English children's fantasies from 1850 to 2000, taking in authors from the well-known Charles Kingsley, C. S. Lewis and J. K. Rowling to the less-known Annie Keary, Edith Elias and Pete Johnson, Colin Manlove shows just how good their books often are as literature. He combines new interpretations of individual works with explanations of how and why their character changes over time, reflecting their different cultural settings. This book is intended both as a critical companion for children's literature courses, and as a stimulus for the general reader and students at all levels.