Happy Birthday Edith Nesbit, born on 15 August 1858! Four decades later, she described her fortieth birthday party in a letter to her mother:
I had a very nice birthday. Fabian [her son] made a bonfire in the evening and decorated the garden with Chinese lanterns. I had some pretty presents – a moss agate brooch, a gold ring (fifteenth century), gloves, table centres, a silver watch chain, a book, a pair of little old flint-lock pistols and some beautiful flowers.
A youthful, vivacious woman, she included a comment on this milestone birthday:
I am forty, as you say: but I never feel forty. When I am ill I feel ninety – and when I am happy I feel nineteen!
Although she had been writing stories and verse for years by then, motivated by the necessity of earning money, the first of her classic books for children, The Story of the Treasure Seekers*, would not be published in book form until the following year, when it was brought out by T. Unwin Fisher.
Briggs, Julia. A Woman of Passion: the life of E. Nesbit 1858-1924. London, The Penguin Group, 1987. p.196
For far more on E. Nesbit look out for my new biography!
* Stories featuring the Bastable children had appeared in magazines as early as 1894 but it was not until 1898 that they were serialised, primarily in The Pall Mall Gazette, in recognisable form.