Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Cresswell, Helen

Working name of UK writer Helen Cresswell Rowe (1934-2005), a prolific author of children's stories. Her first novel, Sonya-by-the-Shore (1960), like several of its immediate successors, contains no overt fantasy elements; and much of her later work, like the Lizzie Dripping sequence of tales for younger children – beginning with Lizzie Dripping (1974) – skirts the supernatural but ultimately avoids it. With The Night-Watchmen (1969), however, HC began to publish vivid fantasies; in this a young boy encounters two tramps who hail from "There" and who maintain a precarious Wainscot existence in our world by pretending to be Night-Watchmen: the crisis – the threat of the supernatural Greeneyes – is averted, and the young boy is given an epiphanic ride on the Night Train. Further fantasy tales include: Up the Pier (1971), in which a young girl's skewed desires force members of a family to Timeslip from 1921; The Bongleweed (1973), in which the strange eponymous weed causes a young girl to develop Magic powers; The Secret World of Polly Flint (1982), in which a maypole focuses young Polly's attention upon the "Time Gypsies", who are able to slip into an invisible village that occupies a time-Polder; Moondial (1987), which conflates timeslip adventures with a girl's adolescent traumas; The Watchers: A Mystery at Alton Towers (1993), in which the real-life funfair (see Carnival) Alton Towers houses ancient creatures, a Lost Land, a harp which, when played, causes the worlds to happen, and other phenomena; and Stonestruck (1995), set in World War II, which exiles a young Londoner to a castle occupied by Ghosts and others. [JC]

other works: The White Sea Horse (1964 chap), for younger children; The Piemakers (1967); The Signposters (1968); A Game of Catch (1969 chap), for younger children; The Wilkses (1970 chap; rev vt Time Out 1987 chap); The Beachcombers (1972); The Winter of the Birds (1975); The Return of the Psammead * (1992), picking up on E Nesbit (see also Sequels by Other Hands).

Helen Cresswell Rowe


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.