(1911-1964) US playwright and lyricist who began writing children's books to please his son; the first published was Red Head (1951). His debt to E Nesbit in plot, style and atmosphere is obvious. Typically, EE wrote of a group of book-loving children who access magical powers, imperfectly understood, and struggle to grasp the rules of Magic and achieve their desires within a limited time. In Half Magic (1954) the magic resides in a coin with the power of granting half a Wish; in The Time Garden (1958) the Natterjack, a Cockney toad, enables them to travel in Time (by sniffing thyme). Knight's Castle (1956) builds on and improves the basic premise behind Nesbit's The Magic City (1910) and brings the bane of modern culture to Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe (1819). EE's penchant for Recursive Fantasy reaches a logical extreme in his last book, Seven Day Magic (1962), in which the enabling Talisman is a library book that must be returned after a week of literary wishes. At their best, the books sparkle with wit and have a lasting charm. [LT]
other works: Mouse Manor (1952); Magic by the Lake (1957); Magic or Not? (1959); The Well-Wishers (1960).
see also: Children's Fantasy.
Edward McMaken Eager