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

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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.